Gordon Blight


Editor’s Note: Canadian visitors to Bernieres-sur-Mer are frequently puzzled by the name of the main street leading from the beach to the village church. The signs reach “Rue Royal Berkshire Regiment.” Who were the Berkshires and why such prominence in a Canadian landing area? C.P. Stacey’s official history has no listing for the regiment. Copp and Vogel ignore them in Maple Leaf Route: Caen as does Reg Roy in 1944: The Canadians in Normandy.

The British official history is almost as silent except for a single chart on “Initial Beach Organisation” which lists “8 Kings and 5 R Berks” as the Beach Groups for 7 and 8 Canadian Infantry Brigades. We are also told that “each beach group contained units of the Royal Engineers, the Royal Army Service Corps, the Royal Army Medical Corps and other specialist formations, and a specially trained battalion of infantry whose commander was the beach group commander. The main task of the infantry was to provide working parties for the specialist units... but at first most of the beach battalions were involved in fighting to subdue enemy posts which had not been cleared when the assault battalions moved inland.” (L.F. Ellis, Victory in the West, Volume 1 (London: HMSO, 1962), p.218). What follows is the D-Day story of the 5th Battalion. Royal Berkshire Regiment taken from their regimetnal history, The History of the Royal Berkshire Regiment (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s) 1920–1947 by Brigadier Gordon Blight.)