John Talbot. RIP.

Discussion in 'Memorials & Cemeteries' started by CXX, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. CXX

    CXX New Member

    John Talbot - Telegraph

    John Talbot, who has died aged 92, won an MC in Normandy in 1944 on a day in which many deeds of outstanding courage were performed.

    Between August 4 and August 6 1944 Talbot, then a captain, was acting battery commander of 7 Field Regiment RA (7 FR) and his commanding officer's representative with the 1st Battalion The Royal Norfolk Regiment (1 RNR).

    On August 6, 1 RNR, with 7 FR in support, was advancing on Sourdeval, near Vire, in Normandy, to relieve the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment, which was occupying the tip of a deep salient.

    That afternoon, a heavy bombardment was followed by an attack on 1 RNR's position by a large force of enemy infantry supported by Tiger tanks of the 10th SS Panzer Division.

    Talbot had taken over artillery responsibility for the area less than two hours earlier. He had no time to dig suitable cover and remained in the open amid shell and mortar bursts while maintaining communications and directing the fire of his guns.

    Ammunition trucks were being blown sky high, dead men and cattle were strewn over the ground and, in the midst of the battle, some Thunderbolts mistook the Norfolks' Battalion HQ for the enemy's and gave it a good strafing.

    Bitter close-quarter fighting continued until the evening but the spirited resistance of the Norfolks and the Monmouths, reinforced by the arrival of 20 Shermans of the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry, forced the enemy to withdraw. In this action Corporal Sidney "Basher" Bates won a posthumous Victoria Cross. Talbot's own comrades remember his imperturbability – "unshakeable even in the most alarming situations" – a valuable quality in war. The citation for the award of an MC paid tribute to the skill and courage with which he pushed forward with his signallers and broke up a series of determined counter-attacks.

    John Bentley Talbot was born in London on April 30 1917 and educated at Highgate where he got his colours in athletics and swimming.

    He enlisted in the 11th Regiment Honourable Artillery Company in 1939 and, after completing an obligatory one day's beagling, was commissioned the following year.

    Talbot was posted to the 7 FR which had an anti-invasion role until 1944. In test firing off Studland in 1942, they blew the bottoms out of the Landing Craft Tanks (LCT's) which then had to be reinforced.

    On D-Day, 7 FR took "V" formation in the run in to Sword Beach, each of their 72 guns firing salvos of 90 rounds over the assaulting infantry in a 30-minute period. When the LCT was close to the beach, Talbot asked the captain how deep the sea was under the ramp.

    A midshipman was ordered to jump in. He disappeared into the waves and, after the craft was moved in, Talbot's troop had a dry landing.

    No sooner had he landed than Talbot took a Pole prisoner at the point of his revolver and marched him off to an LCT.

    Talbot saw more fierce fighting in 11 months of active service before finishing the war at Bremen. Celebrations followed; in his notes, he recorded: "Becks' brewery emptied!"

    He retired from the Army in 1946 in the rank of major and qualified as a solicitor. He practised in London with Williams & James from 1958 to 1984 and became senior partner.

    Settled at Farnham, Surrey, he was interested in research into the history of his own regiment. He returned to Normandy on D-Day for many years and made a lot of friends there and, as something of a gourmet, enjoyed the local cuisine.

    John Talbot died on June 14. He married, in 1942, Marguerite (Peggy) Rayment (née Townley), the widow of Flight Lieutenant Douglas Rayment AFC. She predeceased him and he is survived by two sons, a daughter and a stepson. One daughter predeceased him.

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