The 6th Battalion, Green Howards, was part of an English county regiment, the 19th Foot of Alexandra, the Princess of Wales own Yorkshire Regiment, whose depot was at Richmond, Yorkshire, in the North of England.
The regiment was first raised in 1688 by a Colonel Luttrell and had a great number of battle honours which would be upheld, and added to, in the Second World War. Being one of the few regiments left to retain its name, it formed a vital part of Her Majesty’s Forces, serving anywhere trouble was found; it comprised good and true men and at the risk of me being pompous, splendid soldiers, as our record shows.
I was born and lived for sixty-five years until I retired in Green Howard country, the North Riding of Yorkshire. I was and always will be a Green Howard at heart.
The Green Howards were in the thick of the fighting throughout the war, seeing action at Dunkirk, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Germany and elsewhere. They formed the first wave of attack on Gold Beach on D-Day and Stan Hollis of 6 Green Howards was the only soldier in the British Army to be awarded the Victoria Cross on D-Day.
The Green Howards' WW2 history is detailed in a book by Capt W A T Synge, The Story of the Green Howards 1939-45. It's a comprehensive history and one which is possibly unparalleled by any other regiment. The war started in September 1939, although before then many men had already enlisted in the Territorials (Army Reserve). Synge describes the beginning in his book ....
" On that fine Sunday morning of September 3, 1939, when at 11 a.m. the Prime Minister announced over the wireless that a state of war existed between Great Britain and Germany, there were thousands of men living peaceably in the North Riding of Yorkshire, who never dreamed that, in the course of the next six years, fate would lead them to widely scattered regions of the earth. Men from the dales, and from the rich central plain of York; men from the mines of Cleveland, and from the industrial town of Middlesbrough, from the market towns of Thirsk and Northallerton, and from the seaside towns of Scarborough, Redcar, Whitby and Bridlington, all joined or rejoined the Green Howard family. Those who were too old proudly took up arms in 1940 as members of the Home Guard, ready to face any invader who should dare to attempt to put a foot on Yorkshire soil." (Taken from The Story of the Green Howards 1939-45 by Capt W A T Synge, 1952).
More on the history of the Green Howards - click here