D-DAY ANNIVERSARY: Brothers in arms remember 'great adventure'

D-DAY ANNIVERSARY: Brothers in arms remember 'great adventure'

Stan Rhymes, 90, and Bill Rhymes, 92, look at documents and photographs from the run-up to D-Day

Bill Rhymes, 20, and Albert Rhymes, 24, in 1941

Bill Rhymes, 21, Stan Rhymes, 19, and Vic Rhymes, 23, in 1942

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

IN THE Second World War, four brothers from Marston left their small village to fight for their country.

Today, two of those brothers survive, and still live in Marston.

Stan Rhymes, 90, was part of the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, which marked the beginning of the end of the war.

Bill, 92, followed in his brother’s footsteps days later, stepping on to the Normandy sand and helping to capture Cherbourg.

Seventy years on, they both remember risking their lives under heavy fire as an “adventure”, an escape from parochial village life.

Stan served with the Royal Navy as an ordinary wireman – an electrician – on landing craft LCT 2292 carrying tanks to the beaches.

He was 21 on D-Day, having been in the Navy for just two years.

He remembered how, on the day before: “I was in the North Sea waiting to go in and take American troops across. The weather was bad so they cancelled it for 24 hours.

“By the time we got in there, there were already ships in the bay ferrying tanks in.

“The beach master came and told us to work along the beach, but we got so far they started shelling us from Le Havre.”

When his boat’s ramp was hit, engineers from the beach tied it up so it wouldn’t leak, then they worked back along the beach, picking up prisoners of war to be taken back to England.

Stan, who has a daughter, Mandy Rodway, said: “We just thought we were doing our job. It was just a bit of fun.”

After he arrived back in the UK, he and his unit were put up in the grounds of Queen Victoria’s former home, Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight.

Ten days after the first D-Day landings, his brother Bill was part of the American-led attack on the strategically vital port of Cherbourg.

Bill joined the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Fifth Battalion in 1939, before war was declared but knowing it was imminent.

The father of five daughters remembered: “I joined up for a little adventure.

“Being born in the village, none of this [new developments] was here.”

As the threat of a German invasion grew, following the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk between May 27 and June 4, 1940, he was posted to Southsea.

“They really thought Hitler was going to land,” he remembered.

After that he said: “We were broken up and used as replacements for D-Day.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Bill Rhymes, 21, Stan Rhymes, 19, and Vic Rhymes, 23, in 1942

Bill was attached to the War Office Signal Regiment, which consisted of engineers and post office workers. Its role was to establish communications between Cherbourg and Swanage.

The unit landed at Utah beach after the Americans, who were tasked with capturing Cherbourg.

About five weeks after the French town was taken, on June 29 after fierce fighting, Bill was sent five miles along the beach to an old fort where they set up a cable to send and receive messages to Field Marshal Montgomery.

Bill recalled landing in four feet of water and added: “All our vehicles were water-proofed; the Americans put canvas around their vehicles to protect them but it didn’t work.”

The then Corporal Rhymes spent the next two years at the fort.

He said: “We had quite a cushy billet, mostly mechanical repairs and maintenance.”

One of the most memorable occasions was capturing a German diesel generator.

The day victory was declared, he said: “We just got drunk.”

After that, he spent another year helping with the clear-up operation, rebuilding roads and communications in northern France.

He said: “A lot of it was boring, but I wouldn’t have missed it. It was a big adventure.”

Stan said: “It was exciting, every day was different.”

The family’s eldest son, Albert, served with the RAF in London, raising barrage balloons into the sky to stop dive-bombers.

After the war he lived off Cowley Road, working at the Cowley car plant, and died in 2004.

Second oldest, Vic, served with the Highland Light Infantry in France and drove a Bren machinegun carrier on the frontline.

After the war he also worked at the Cowley plant, living off Cowley Road until his death in 2000.

Bill and Stan returned to their parents’ house in Williams Street after the war.

Bill went back to his old post at City Motors in Gloucester Green, and ended up working there for 55 years. He returned to Normandy once, about 20 years ago, on a commemorative tour.

Oxford Mail:

  • Bill Rhymes, 20, and Albert Rhymes, 24, in 1941

Stan never went back. He worked at the Cowley car plant for 35 years, then got a job as a gardener in North Oxford.

For several years after the war, food was still rationed in Oxford.

The family lived off rabbits and chickens and home-grown vegetables from their allotments.

Today, as the world marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day and veterans return to Normandy perhaps for the last time, the brothers still live in their own homes, just yards from each other in Marston.

Our top stories:

Oxford United buoyed by Roberts news

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Wednesday 26th November 2014

MICKEY Lewis backed James Roberts to come back stronger than ever after Oxford United were boosted by the news the striker’s hamstring injury was not serious.

Update: Person 'seriously injured' as crash closes A4183 near Abingdon

Oxford Mail: Traffic Alert general

5:32pm Wednesday 26th November 2014

A SERIOUS crash has closed Oxford Road, Abingdon, both ways near Lodge Hill A34 junction.

Missing teenager Tommy Lewis could be in Abingdon, Didcot, Wantage or Grove

Oxford Mail:

4:21pm Wednesday 26th November 2014

A TEENAGER reported missing could be in Abingdon, Didcot, Wantage or Grove.

Faringdon baby who died in suspicious circumstances named as Jayden Saxton

Oxford Mail:

3:45pm Wednesday 26th November 2014

AN 11-week-old baby who died in suspicious circumstances last week has been named as Jayden Saxton.

Overturned lorry delays A420 traffic

Oxford Mail:

11:47am Wednesday 26th November 2014

A LORRY has turned on its side on a roundabout in Kingston Bagpuize, blocking traffic on the A420 and A415.

What's in our interactive front page to explore today?

Oxford Mail:

11:56am Wednesday 26th November 2014

Here's today's interactive front page - with links to all the featured stories but extra stories today...

Oxford train commuters delayed

Oxford Mail: oxford train station inside

9:10am Wednesday 26th November 2014

Trains going from London Paddington to Oxford were delayed yesterday by signalling problems at Ealing Broadway.

Bampton haulier in court on fly-tipping charge

Oxford Mail: Steve Radband

9:10am Wednesday 26th November 2014

A former Royal British Legion repatriation family liaison officer has appeared in court charged with fly tipping.

Westgate Shopping Centre's £400m expansion approved by city councillors

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 26th November 2014

THE £400m overhaul of the Westgate Shopping Centre was given final approval last night, clearing the way for work to begin in the new year.

Police are called in over death of Connor Sparrowhawk

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 26th November 2014

POLICE are investigating the death of teenager Connor Sparrowhawk, who died in the bath at a Headington NHS facility last year.

Rose Hill parents' 'little miracle' Jesse

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 26th November 2014

A YEAR ago Jesse Malone’s parents were not sure if he would survive after being born at just 24 weeks.

Wintertime staging in Charlbury for a Midsummer classic

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 26th November 2014

AN ENCHANTING summer comedy will leave audiences spellbound as it returns to the stage this week.

Three men are arrested after car crashes into traffic lights on Abingdon Road, Oxford

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 26th November 2014

DRIVERS in Oxford faced severe congestion in Abingdon Road yesterday after a suspected stolen car crashed into traffic lights during the early hours.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree