“We’ve had nothing more frightening than a VAT inspection”

These are the words spoken by my brother at our father’s funeral that have stuck very close to me. What he had to face is in this image. That’s him under the black dot. It’s quite a famous photograph from the invasion of Normandy and was taken in June on the outskirts of Cagny and features the advancing Guards Amoured Division that by September the 2nd was liberating Brussels.

On my father’s left is another Davies who sadly never made it out of Normandy. The officer pointing is Major Syrett, killed the day after this image was taken.

Our father was one of the few to survive this trip, and lived until he was 93.

I found the image in a book some years ago when Dad was still alive and I was about to go on a holiday to Normandy with the family. I wanted to know where he’d been so took a little trip around the area. I bought the book before we went and showed it to him and pointed out the image. ” That’s me there” he said calmly, and proceeded to name many of the others in the picture. I found that the image was in the Imperial War Museum Collection and got in touch with them. They printed some brilliant copies from the original negatives for me, which are now treasured by the rest of the family.

I asked him to describe the scene to me at the time, and he said: ” Well, apart from the lovely sunny day, what you don’t get from this is the noise, there were shells firing all the time, it was all pretty frightening”. Unlike my brother and I, he never had to go through a VAT inspection.

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