[page last updated 24 May 2015]
Roll of Honour Data Page
HANSLIP( see notes below)
(dd mmm yyyy) Grimsby
286 Field Company R.E.
(dd mmm yyyy)
Cemetery / Memorial:
A rather inaccurate Article from Grimsby Telegraph of 7 June 2014:Contact website
"Sapper Harry Hanslip, one of the very first men to land in France on D-day, recalled events in detail.
He was the keenest Old Comrade the Royal Engineers could have and was a frequent visitor to his old stamping grounds near Caen.
Harry was one of the airborne troops flown in by glider at dead of night with the express intention of taking a bridge, the Germans had prepared for demolition. Harry had to stop them doing just that. And he did. And he was rightly very proud of it.
Harry was for 28 years the senior bricklayer at Courtaulds until his retirement in 1981, Grimsby born, schooled at St Mary's RC, who began his war building married quarters at Binbrook and Scampton aerodromes.
Then he joined the Royal Engineers and his life was transformed. When the call came for paratroopers, he volunteered and trained in Hotspur, Horsa and Hannibal gliders. It was precarious stuff.
At midnight on D-Day he and 20 sappers huddled in a Horsa as it trundled in tow from a Halifax bomber across the runways at Brize Norton. An hour later they touched down. The war had begun. It was 1am. Not all the gliders made such satisfactory landings. There were many casualties. Under machine gun fire and in the cover afforded by a field of long hay, Harry crawled to safety. His officer was shot dead at his side. Harry sought cover alongside the corpse.
Until the rest of his unit, 591 Coy (Airborne) caught up with them from the beaches, Harry and 30 of his chums were attached to the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. But the bridge at Ranville wasn't blown and Caen fell eventually. The locals called it Pegasus bridge (after the Airborne Division's cap-badge) from then on.
Months later, after Paris had fallen, 6th Airborne Division of which Harry had been a part, was ordered home, Harry went with them but not before returning to Ranville where, to commemorate the many dead in his unit's desperate D-Day fighting, he built a cross in the churchyard. He was good with his hands although he never expected ever to see the cross again.
It's still there. Harry had been back to see it. It's well looked after.
Harry Hanslip never missed the Royal Engineers Association reunion in London and could be found every month at the local association meeting at Westward Ho Barracks in Grimsby. It was a fitting place for him to be, for Harry actually built the barracks before the war. Wherever he had been with the Army, soldier, or civilian, he made his mark. "
[This article gives the impression that Hanslip was in 591, and if he was, then would probably have been No.2 Troop for the Merville Battery assault, as he went in by glider.
Meanwhile the Ox and Bucks were at the Bridges not the Battery, and the 591 did not land from the beaches either, nor were any 591 Squadron officers killed on D-day.
There is certainly considerable confusion about facts in this article.
There are no other mentions of his name in ralation to the 591, however the paradata.org website has an article on the 286 Field Company which refers to the cross mentioned in the above article.
The quote taken from the Royal Engineers Journal states:
"It would be an omission in this account of the work of 286 Field Park Company RE (Airborne) not to mention the Memorial Cross. Sadly the temporary divisional burial ground at Ranville began to fill and later in June 1944, when there was a lull in the battle, the CRE approached the Divisional Commander and Senior Chaplain, George Hales with a design for a simple temporary memorial cross sketched on the back of a message form. Both readily agreed. The cross was actually made by Sapper Hanslip RE of cement cast in moulds and speckled with coal dust to simulate marble. A Pegasus and "6 June 1944" were attached, made from copper compressed air bottles salvaged from derelict gliders, beaten flat and stippled with the Pegasus design and lettering. The cross was erected on 24 June 1944 and consecrated by the Senior Chaplain. The burial ground became a permanent War Graves site and the cross was still standing thirty years after - and still is, it is believed - a fine tribute to Sapper Hanslip's workmanship. In the days when the annual Airborne Pilgrimage took place, the service in the cemetery was always held round this memorial cross rather than the much larger formal one erected by the War Graves Commission."
This indicates that Hanslip was at 286 Field Coy. at that time of the Normandy campagn, and it is possible he may have been re-deployed with them after previously being with the Antrim Fortress Company, before it converted to parachuting in 1943.
Aside from this news article I have seen no other records, thus far, to indicate any connection to the 591 for Sapper Hanslip.]
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