Written by Reuben Tendler
Tuesday, 04 June 2024

80 years ago this month, the largest seaborne invasion in history took place. On 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion of Western Europe began, with the airborne and amphibious landings of thousands of British, American, and Canadian soldiers in Normandy.

Despite failing to achieve many of its major goals on the first day, the landings were a success, securing the Allies a foothold in France from which they would eventually liberate much of Western Europe. Over 4000 men lost their lives that day, including one Old Brightonian. To mark the 80th anniversary of this pivotal moment in the Second World War, commemorative events will take place in the UK, Normandy, and across the world.

As part of these commemorations, we have decided to look back through the research undertaken on the Old Brightonians who were killed during the Second World War and remember the sacrifices of four of our fallen who died on, or in the days following, D Day.


RAYMOND CHARLES BELCHER (SC. 1935-36)

Died 6th June 1944

Raymond, known as ‘Bunny’, was born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, on 23 June 1923. He won a scholarship to Brighton College, and proved a good sportsman, earning a place in the 1st XV and playing tennis, squash, and fives for the school.

During the War he served with the Airborne Light Tank Squadron and then with the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, an elite unit that required members to pass a special intelligence test and then train as parachutists.

After a whirlwind romance with Corporal Kay Pearce of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, they married on December 11th 1943, only a month after they met.

With D-Day approaching, Bunny was placed in charge of the regiment’s Harbour Party, a group of around 15 parachutists whose role was to jump with the very first units to land on French territory, reconnoitre, and secure strategically important points. His aircraft crashed on the night of D-Day, probably after being shot down, killing everyone on board. They were among the first men to die on D-Day.

As the plane had caught fire, the shells, bullets, and explosives aboard had detonated, leaving the crash site too dangerous for recovery of the bodies. It took many months for the Allies to finally arrange a team to make it safe enough for the deceased to be removed.

Bunny’s only child, Anthony, was born on 9 September 1944, three months after his father’s death. Bunny is buried at Ranville War Cemetery, northeast of Caen.


JOSEPH GUEST HOLMAN (WA. 1920-24)

Died 8th June 1944

Joseph was born in Bristol on 24 March 1907, and in 1929 married Frederika, daughter of a fishing fleet owner. They had two children, Lynette and Roger.

Holman opted for the army over the navy during the war, and served in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, which kept the army supplied and repaired equipment.

On 8 June 1944, two days after D-Day, his unit, 17 Vehicle Company, was sent to France as part of a small advance force of reconnaissance units. His boat was torpedoed en route, and Holman was lost.

For a time, his family did not know his ultimate fate. Out of desperation, they were forced to post a notice in a newspaper announcing that he was missing and asking for information. He is commemorated at the Bayeux Memorial.


EDWARD HERBERT KENNEY (SC. 1934-39)

Died 8th June 1944

Born in Chelsea on 11 May 1921, Edward became a House Prefect and editor of the Brightonian Magazine while at the College.

He joined the Life Guards, which took part in the Normandy landings of June 1944, serving as a trooper, and died of his wounds on only the third day of the campaign. Kenney is buried in the Hermanville War Cemetery.

After his death, Kenney’s parents donated money to the College in his memory. Walter Hett, the then Headmaster, suggested that it be donated to the Centenary Endowment Fund, with a scholarship named after him.


PAUL GILBERT FRANKLIN (DU. 1927-30)

Died 14th June 1944

Paul Franklin was born on 24 May 1913. At the College he fought in the Boxing VIII as a flyweight and was described as a plucky fighter.

In 1941 Paul enlisted in the 3rd Regiment of the Royal Horse Artillery, which landed in Normandy soon after the Allied invasion in 1944. Only eight days after D-Day he was killed in Operation Perch, the battle to capture Caen during the hard fighting to break the Allies out of their small beachhead. He is buried in the Bayeux War Cemetery.

A heart-breaking letter, from Paul’s father to Walter Hett, survives to provide an insight into how they dealt with his death:

...of course it is a terrible blow to us, but we are not railing against our fate, but are very thankful for 31 years of the joy he gave us.


To mark last year’s Remembrance, we created an engaging initiative that aimed to encourage the entire Brighton College community to visit the graves and memorials of Brighton College’s fallen; an interactive world map containing all the known graves and memorials of the Old Brightonians who fell during the World Wars.

You can access the Remembrance Map using this link: https://www.brightoncollegeremembers.com/remembrance-map

If you ever find yourself in Normandy, please do consider visiting the graves or memorials of these fallen Old Brightonians. We welcome any photographs you take of the memorials and graves of fallen OBs that you are able to visit. We upload photos of any visits to the Brighton College Remembers website.

- James Harrison (Archivist)


Contact Us

Brighton College

Eastern Road

Brighton, BN2 0AL

ob@oldbrightonians.com

+44 (0) 1273 704 250

Registered charity number: 307061