David Rowlands: Military Artist
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The capture of Port-en-Bessin, 7th June 1944   The capture of Port-en-Bessin, 7th June 1944

47 Royal Marines Commando suffered heavy casualties on D-Day, 6th June 1944. After a night march they fought their way into the town of Port-en-Bessin the following day. Their assault against the strong German defences on the western headland was repulsed, but in the late evening, under the leadership of Captain Terence Cousins, two small groups attacked the defences on the eastern headland. Captain Cousins was killed as he led four men in a final charge against a German bunker, which resulted in the surrender of the enemy and the capture of the port.

General Miles Dempsey, commander of the British Army on D-Day said, ‘When all did so well, it is rather invidious to pick out anyone for special mention, but the two outstanding examples of initiative and the value of tough individual training were on my right and left flanks, carried out by 47 Royal Marine Commando and the 6th Airborne Division respectively.’

Lieutenant-General Sir Brian Horrocks, commander of XXX Corps in Normandy, later said, ‘It is doubtful whether in their long distinguished history, the Royal Marines have ever achieved anything finer.’

I interviewed surviving veterans of 47 Commando: John Forfar (their Medical Officer) and Marines Ken Parker, Ted Batley and Arthur Delap (the Bren gunner seen in the picture) all provided me with eye-witness accounts to ensure accuracy in the painting. Arthur clearly recalled that he and his comrades donned their steel helmets during the assault, but Captain Cousins was wearing his green beret.

The painting was unveiled by the Mayor of Port-en-Bessin during the 70th Anniversary Reunion of 47 Commando, at the Union Jack Club in London on 9th March 2013.

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Printed image size(s): B2 only (58 x 38 cm)

Owner: 47 Royal Marines Commando Association

Price(s): £65