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Royal Tunbridge Wells




Royal Tunbridge Wells Branch

                                June Newsletter

8 June 2020

Welcome to the RBL Tunbridge Wells Branch Newsletter for June, in this 11th week of C- virus lockdown. We hope you are coping with the restrictions, and staying well. The first easing last week of some of them is certainly very welcome.  May I repeat our earlier offer to try to help if you find yourself in difficulty—please call us ; our contact numbers are at the end of this Newsletter.

VE Day & VJ Day 75th Anniversary Events, 8 May

Last month in spite of the lockdown many people remembered and marked the 75th Anniversary of VE & VJ Days.  I was delighted to receive a variety of pictures and videos, and would like to thank all who took the trouble to record their events and send me the material.  I hope you enjoyed seeing the few pictures I sent you on the day itself.  So here are pictures of some of the ways in which you marked the 75th Anniversary of those momentous days.   


The Wreath laid by the Friends of Tunbridge Wells Cemetery at the Cross of Sacrifice in the Garden of Remembrance. TS Brilliant Buglers played the Last Post in the evening.


Eye-catching house decorations by David Wakefield and Malcolm Blythman


                                       Mouthwatering cakes from Jennifer & John Whelan



David Jukes’s Land Rovers in their home colours


Duncan Sage our Standard Bearer at the Last Post played by neighbours Sebastian & Oliver

In the uniform of the 17th Tonbridge Scout & Guide Band



(Left) RBL Tunbridge Wells Branch VE Day 75 wreath is laid at the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial

(Right) The Party that didn’t happen.  This was the poster all set to appear all over the town when lockdown began. It would have been a fantastic party on the Pantiles featuring a Big Band playing 1940s music, professional dancers performing moves of that decade, TS Brilliant buglers, and the Town Crier, with support from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and the local businesses.

The Skinners School CCF also produced a moving VE Day 75 tribute consisting of individual cadets speaking on video, with music.

How CSM Stan Hollis won the VC on D-Day, 6 June 1944, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum and the History Press

Two days ago was the anniversary of Operation Overlord, more commonly known as D-Day. 76 years ago, Yorkshireman Stan Hollis was Company Sergeant Major of the 5th Bn Green Howards, one of the first battalions to reach Gold Beach on D-Day. He was no stranger to combat. By 1944, he'd fought at Dunkirk, El Alamein and the Battle for Primasole Bridge.

Hollis was thirty-one years old on D-Day. He was in charge of three machine gun and three mortar teams. He was one of the most experienced men in his unit, and many younger soldiers looked up to him. 

It was at a house that overlooked the beach where Hollis performed the first of two heroic acts to win him the Victoria Cross.  When the lead platoons passed the house, they came under fire from a machine gun hidden in a pillbox. Going forward with his Company Commander to investigate, Hollis charged around thirty yards over open ground whilst under fire to attack the pill box. He emptied his magazine into the bunker, then threw in a grenade & took the surviving occupants prisoner. Discovering a slit trench leading away to a second pillbox in the garden of the house, he advanced down the trench alone, captured the fortification and all those in it. In all, he captured 30 Germans single-handed.



Later that day, at around 11am, Hollis performed the second act of heroism which contributed to the D-Day Victoria Cross. 

He spotted a German field gun hidden in a hedge, and decided to try and destroy it. Accompanied by two machine-gunners, he crawled through a rhubarb patch to get close enough to the artillery piece with his PIAT infantry anti-tank weapon.  However, he missed and the gun turned and fired on them. Miraculously, it fired high over their heads. Hollis shouted to the men with him to get back to a farm building they could use for cover. 

Unfortunately, the men either hadn’t heard him or were too afraid to run, and failed to accompany him back. On realising they were still out there he felt it was his responsibility to get them to safety.   Hollis took a Bren gun and advanced into the open, firing from the hip in plain sight to attract the attention of the enemy field gun team. His comrades ran back from the rhubarb patch to cover. Astoundingly, even though he was standing in sight of the enemy, Hollis was not hit.

The Victoria Cross recognises acts of extreme bravery carried out under direct enemy fire. Stan Hollis was the only serviceman to be awarded the Victoria Cross on D-Day for his gallantry during the allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944. 



In Sept 1944 on being wounded for the fifth time, Hollis returned to England and was presented the medal by King George VI.  He returned home to North Ormesby, Middlesborough at the end of the war, had various jobs as steel worker, partner in a motor repair business, and as a publican. He married Alice Clixby and they had two children. He was too modest to agree to the many requests to tell his story.  Hollis died in 1972. In 2015 a £150,000 memorial to D-Day was erected in his honour by the Stanley E Hollis Memorial Fund close to Middlesborough’s Cenotaph. 

To conclude

With best wishes from all on the Committee, and volunteers.  Stay safe.  If you need to contact any of us, our numbers are below—



RBL Tunbridge Wells Branch Committee members & Volunteers

Chairman and Newsletter John Cohen 07766 313047

Vice Chairman Malcolm Blythman 07754 593131

Secretary  Dennis Homewood 01892 528203

Treasurer (& President) David Wakefield 01892 263453

Committee Members  Derek Powell, Jeffrey Rowland, Laurie Manser, Richard Avis

Lorna-Jane Gittings  07793 271990  Gary Faulkner 07930 269669

Jon Vanns 07979 562163