D-Day Anniversary and Rolls of Honour

The 6th of June 2024 marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces mounted the largest amphibious invasion the world has ever witnessed. In 1944, Operation Overlord saw over 5,000 ships and landing craft set down more than 130,000 troops on five Normandy beaches in an action that would bring about the liberation of north-west Europe.

Preparations for D-Day began in 1943 and led to the landings on the Normandy coast along a fifty mile stretch that was divided into five sectors, Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. It is certain that many bellringers were involved in the build up and the landings but, to date, there is just one ringing casualty that we are aware of on D-Day itself. He is:

Sapper Bernard Paul Cordwell, Woodchester, Gloucester & Bristol Diocesan Association. Died 06/06/1944 age 22. Royal Engineers, 80 Assault Squadron. Service No.5192613. Commemorated at Bayeux War Cemetery, France, Grave X J 22. Born 22/02/1922. One of three children of Charles Edward Cordwell and Violet Emma Cordwell (née Smith) of Woodchester, Gloucestershire. It is believed his father was in military service before WWI as he and his wife were married at All Saints Garrison Church, Aldershot, Hampshire, in 1910. Born: Canterbury, Kent. Enlisted: Unknown. Resided: (1939 Register): Selsey Road, Woodchester, Gloucestershire.

 It is believed Sapper Cordwell was involved in the landings at Juno beach on D-Day, the Royal Engineers had a number of specialist assault squadrons and these used special vehicles, often adapted tanks, that helped clear mines, attack strong points and provide a route in for attacking troops – they were among the first to land so were particularly vulnerable. It is believed that he was killed early in the operation, possibly along with the commander of his unit, Lieutenant Jack Harold Hornby, they lie side by side in the Bayeaux War Cemetery, Lieutenant Hornby’s grave is X J 23. The cemetery was completed in 1952 and contains 4,144 Commonwealth burials of WWII, 338 of them are unidentified and there are also over 500 graves of other nationalities, the majority of them German. The Bayeux Memorial stands opposite the cemetery and commemorates the names of more than 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died in the early stages of the Normandy campaign and have no known grave.

(courtesy of Alan Regin, Steward of the Rolls of Honour)

Through extensive research by Alan Regin, there are nearly 90 names to be added to the WWII Rolls of Honour.  To accommodate these, a new book is required. It will be made exactly the same size as the existing book with vellum pages, leather binding and beautiful calligraphy and artwork by Tim Noad and cost approx. £4,500.

Amongst those to be recorded are:

  • Lieutenant George William (Jack) Ashmole, Arlesey, Bedfordshire Association
  • Sergeant Albert William Bunn, Limpsfield, Surrey Association
  • Stoker 1st Class Alva Crabtree, Cross Stone, Lancashire Association
  • Civilian Frederick George Samuel Cole, Poole, Salisbury Diocesan Guild

As an important record and recognition of the service of bellringers during times of war, the Rolls of Honour are our lasting testament to the ultimate sacrifice.

If you would like to make a contribution toward this new book, please send your donation by bank transfer to The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers sort code: 30-99-50 account number: 00218896, reference ROH.

Don’t forget that as part of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, we are once again encouraging ringers to Ring Out for Peace on 6th June at 6.30pm (or at a suitable time that day).  You can find out more here, and register your participation by emailing your tower and contact details to with the title “Ringing for Peace”. You can also submit your performances to BellBoard here.

Vicki Chapman
Deputy President
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

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