Green Howards Museum marks 80th anniversary of D-Day with new exhibition

The Green Howards Museum's current medal room.

The only soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross on D-Day will be featured in a new exhibition opening at the Green Howards Museum in Richmond tomorrow.

The new exhibition, which focuses on the extraordinary contribution of the 2,000 Green Howards who landed in Normandy 80 years ago as part of D-Day’s Operation Overlord, brings to life the individual stories of Green Howards soldiers who took part in the landings.

These include Private Ken Cooke, one of the last surviving veterans of the D-Day landings, and CSM Stan Hollis, the only soldier to be awarded the VC on D-Day.

Stan Hollis’ granddaughter, Amanda Hart, will be the museum’s special guest at the official opening on Monday.

Landing on Gold Beach on 6th June 1944, Stan rushed a German pillbox, taking five German soldiers prisoner.

He then took another 26 prisoners at a second German pillbox prior to clearing a trench.

Later that day, he led an attack on an enemy position containing a field gun and MG 42 machine guns before learning that two of his men had been left behind.

With the words “I took them in. I will try to get them out”, he threw a grenade towards the enemy position.

It failed to explode – but it was enough to distract the Germans who, with their heads down, didn’t notice that Stan was already on top of them. Shooting them down, Stan brought his fellow Green Howards to safety.

The museum’s head of collections, Zoe Utley, said, “This is a thrilling day for all of us at the museum and we’re really excited to be inviting visitors in on the very first day.

“This exhibition has been in the making for almost a year and I’ve worked alongside our specialist military researcher, Steve Erskine, and our amazing team of volunteers to bring together the personal histories of men who went on to make history on June 6.

“We hope visitors will be as touched by the stories we’ve uncovered as we are.”

The Green Howards Museum CEO, Emma Woods, said: “The D-Day Exhibition is the result of many months of research piecing together individual accounts of bravery.

“The D-Day narratives told in the exhibition – which are often heart-wrenching stories of courage and self-sacrifice in the face of extreme challenges – are a huge part of both the Green Howards’ history and the wider involvement of our armed forces on June 6th June 1944.

“It’s an honour to pay tribute to those who gave so much.”

On June 6, the museum will host a memorial service for the Green Howards who lost their lives fighting in both world wars and in more recent military conflicts at the regimental memorial in the town.

The Green Howards 80th Anniversary D-Day Exhibition at The Green Howards Museum, Trinity Church Square, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4QN, is open Monday to Saturday 10am – 4pm from May 6 to December 23.

See www.greenhowards.org throughout 2024 for further information on exhibitions, tours, talks, workshops and family-friendly events.