On this day in Yorkshire 1944

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What a Bar of Soap Bought in Normandy

Two dead cows for one bar of soap. This bit of barter may have had no precedent in Normandy, but it was more than agreeable to a bunch of our airborne troops and a French farming family.

One of the new arrivals among the wounded at Leeds General Infirmary, Lance-Corporal George Wilson, of 452, Oakwood Lane. Roundhay, Leeds, tells the story.

“They wanted toilet soap, we wanted steak and chips.” he says.

“A mortar bomb fell in a field killing two cows, so we offered them a bar of soap for the cows and everyone was happy.” Lance-Corporal Wilson, with ll and a half years Army service, went over with an airborne division on D-Day, and saw 10 days of the fighting in the Caen sector before a shrapnel wound in the leg sent him home again.

Yesterday, he felt the better for a hair cut. The barber was a neighbour of his, a welcome visitor to the wards as he went between the beds with his trimming scissors.

Private A. Dutton, an infantryman of Rose Cottage, Thornes Lane, Wakefield, landed on the code-called Red Beach at 7.25 a.m. on D-Day and to his disgust, was out of the fight by 9.30 a.m.

By this time they were half a mile inland. “It proved easier going than we were led to suppose,” he said.

Other Yorkshiremen among the 62 new arrivals at the Infirmary are Lance-Sergeant Richard Harrison a machine gunner whose home is in St. Aidan Road. Bridlington, and Private George Vickers, of Young Street, Sheffield, who was wounded In the Tilly area, and is warm in praise of the R.A.M.C. arrangements on the field.

Garden pinks were in the wards, seashells for ashtrays, wireless headphones for those who wanted to listen and books from the library.

Among 33 newcomers at the Hospital for Women are Corporal Herbert Atkin, Giles Avenue. York, and Driver George Davies, of Guard House Avenue. Keighley.

Private G.H. Jackson, of Bridlington Street. Hull, who landed with a parachute regiment on D-Day smack in the middle of a Panzer division, is at another E.M.S. hospital in Leeds, along with Trooper H. Emsley. Carr Bottom Avenue. Little Horton, Bradford: Private Kenneth Milner, Dick Lane. Thornbury, Bradford: and Captain G. Wilson, R.A.0.C., Victoria Street. Barnsley, who said they found the Germans in Normandy much inferior physically to those who fought in North Africa.

In the main, he thinks, they were also much younger.

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