In September 1989 I was asked if I could raise the money and find a World War Two Churchill Tank as a memorial to all of the Tank crews who died during the most fearsome Battle of the conflict for HILL 112, this I did and on the 55th anniversary of the battle, in July 1999, the tank was place on the memorial site, approx, 15 km. South West of Caen, Normandy.
Hill 112 Memorial
“Hill 112 Memorial lies just off of the D8, towards the village of Esquay-Notre-Dame, south-west of Caen”
I have since placed two more memorials
In May 2000, supplying planting 43 trees together with a stone plinth and plaque at Longleat Park with the kind permission of the Marquess of Bath, to commemorate for all those of the 43rd Division who died during the battle.
In 2015 a statue of an infantryman was unveiled by HRH The Earl of Wessex on site of Hill 112 as a memorial to ALL infantrymen who fell during the Operations Epsom & Jupiter in June, July and August 1944, some 65,000 were involved in those battles.
At the same time I raised funds to purchase a 25 pounder gun [the type I used all through the war].
Albert Figg’s Hill of Peace
On 10 July 2017, HRH Prince Edward, The Earl of Wessex returned to Hill 112 to unveil 112 trees planted on the hill in the shape of a Maltese cross, so that all relatives and friends will be able to place a plaque on a tree, in memory of their loved ones who failed to return home.
Gilles Osmont, President of Odon Côte 112 Association noted that: “In 2000, [Figg] brought in a Churchill Infantry Support Tank, then there was the statue of the British infantryman and finally he found a sponsor to plant 112 trees”
In recognition of Albert Figg’s dedication to ensuring that the battle of Hill 112 was properly commemorated, Prince Edward unveiled a plaque naming the memorial the ‘hill of peace’. Sadly, Albert died a few days previously and could not attend the first memorial service that he had worked tirelessly to bring about, but his son and daughter joined The Earl of Wessex to unveil a plaque dedicated to Albert. Now, Albert’s work and the sacrifice that his comrades made to defend Britain will be remembered going into the future
Battle of Hill 112 in Albert’s words
This hill was described by the German commander Field Marshal Rommel as being the most important hill in Normandy, and whoever held it controlled all areas a round it.
There was no doubt he was right, many soldiers both Allied and Germans were to loose their lives during the Battle.
It was in the morning of June 25th 1944 when operation Epsom started with the 11th Armoured Division, and the 15th Scottish Division supported by C Squadron of the 23rd Hussars [Tanks], at this point I would like to mention that I was not in the front line. I was a Sergeant Gunner and was at least three and half miles behind the front line whose job was to support the attacking infantrymen 15th Scottish Division together with all corps. and Divisional Guns.
You have to remember that this, the first action that the 15th Scottish, as were the 11th Armoured Division, 43rd Wessex Infantry Division, 53rd Welsh Infantry Division 49th West Riding Division who came over after the bridgehead had been secured in Operation Overlord [the D-Day landing on June 6th] 1944, the operation only lasted six days, and here was a stalemate until Operation Jupiter started on July 10th which my Division, the 43rd Wessex, which carried on until the end of June when the 53rd Welsh who had taken over from the 43rd, and reported to headquarters on the 23rd that the Germans had vacated the Hill.
It was due to the loss of more than 50 tanks during these two battles that the Cote 112 Association felt that there should be a Churchill tank on the hill as a memorial to all tank crews who lost their lives, most burnt to death in their tanks, one can only imagine what it must had been like, after all most of them were only boys [19/20.] I was a little older, aged 24.
During the ten weeks of battle my 112 field Regiment fired in the region of 6000 shells in Operation Epsom and the same amount in Operation Jupiter, from twenty-four 25 pounder guns.
We all owe a huge debt to those gallant tank crews and it not just us; the local French inhabitants are just as insistent that this memorial is long overdue.
There are many memorials all over France but the bloody battle of HILL 112 has somehow been forgotten, of which it should never have been.
We can still raise peoples awareness today of the sacrifices made by the amount of casualties 70 years ago in the ten weeks of battle that has enable us to live the way we do. Free from oppression, hunger and fear.