Cycle challenge in honour of Sgt. Harry Salmon
Aged 81, Harry Salmon is preparing to take on a hugely inspiring endeavour. In early June, to coincide with the 76th anniversary of D-Day, he will cycle around 270 kilometres, in honour of his father, Sgt. Harry Salmon, who is one of the 22,442 to be named on the Memorial. He will be raising funds for phase two of the British Normandy Memorial project, namely the creation of a world-class Education and Visitor Centre. In Harry’s own words, the Centre is “rightly considered to be an essential part of the Memorial, informing, as it will, future generations of the part played by those heroes of the liberation of Europe.”
Sgt. Harry Salmon was killed in action on 30 July 1944 at the age of 34, while serving in ‘D’ Company of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In memory of his father, Harry will cycle from Dieppe to Ouistreham, passing through the villages of Fontenay-le-Pesnel (where his father is buried) and Ver-sur-Mer (the location of the Memorial site). You can find out more about his fundraiser and make a donation via his JustGiving page.
The Trust is incredibly grateful to Harry for all his support and wishes him all the very best for June.
Harry has written some moving words about his father, which we are honoured to share below:
My father was born on 14 March 1910 in Fenton, Stoke-on-Trent. He was one of nine siblings. My mother and father married in 1936. My mother was from Stoke too.
My father had shown talent for football at school and had played for North Staffordshire, who beat Reading in the final of the English Schools Shield in 1923-24. Staffordshire won 1-0 with a goal scored by my father from a penalty. Reports from the various teams with which he was associated all refer to his defensive and distributional skills and an ability to head the ball almost from one side of the pitch to the other, an extraordinary feat particularly considering the composition of footballs in those days.
I was born in 1938 and my father enlisted in the Army in 1940. Then followed 3-4 years of training before his D-Day landing in Normandy. I remember very little of those years. We lived in Shrewsbury at the time and I do remember my mother shouting, “He’s here!” and the two of us plus Mac, the dog, running down the garden to meet him. He was, of course, in uniform with his rifle and helmet slung over his shoulder. I presumably didn’t weigh much because no sooner had I arrived at his feet I was in the air and then in a bear hug. I remember the roughness of his uniform and the teak-hardness of his arms and shoulders, the scratchy stubble of his face and the wild barking of Mac, who wanted to share this reunion. Above all, I remember feeling secure, a sensation that was to be absent for many years to come. My mother did not re-marry and I had no siblings.
A letter to my mother from Captain Wilson, adjutant of the 17th Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, stated that he died during an attack on 30 July. ‘ D’ Company were advancing when the Company Commander was killed by the explosion of a mine. Harry immediately went to his assistance but another mine exploded, killing him instantly.
Fontenay-le-Pesnel is a small and beautifully kept cemetery, which I have visited on several occasions. I took my mother there and my children and grandchildren have visited. It is still not an easy thing to do, particularly as my mother is there now too.
My family and I look forward to seeing his name on the Memorial alongside those of his comrades.