Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Learning the truth of Marine Robert Casson on D-Day

1. Marine Robert Casson from Whitehaven
Born 1 March 1919, Died 6 June 1944 

46 Royal Marine Commando/4th Special Service Brigade
Killed at sea, landing on Juno Beach, Normandy
(Robert's brother Joseph also died in Normandy) 
2. Robert Casson's niece Mary Holland 
A pilgrimage to Normandy and the beaches
April 2018
3. Robert's niece Mary Holland and her husband John
Remembering two of Mary's uncles:
Robert Casson, died 6 June 1944
 Joseph Casson, died 27 June 1944 
Normandy Veterans Memorial, Whitehaven (June 2018)
4. Robert Casson's wartime medalas and certificate
Issued to his family by the M.O.D. in April 2018
5. WW2 memorial at Rowntrees factory, York 
Mary Holland points to her Uncle Robert's name
Robert Casson worked at Rowntrees before the war
Royal Marine Robert Casson, EX/3236, originally from Whitehaven was killed at sea while landing on Juno Beach on the first day of the Normandy Landings, D-Day 6 June 1944. He is buried at Ryes (Bazenville) War Cemetery, Calvados, Normandy next to his younger brother Joseph who also died in the Normandy campaign. 

In 2018 Robert's family obtained his wartime service records and his medal entitlement. For the first time Robert's relatives were able to learn the truth of what happened on D-Day. It also turned out that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission had incorrectly recorded Robert as serving with 45 Royal Marine Commando. In reality, his Robert's records show he was serving with 46 Royal Marine Commando (attached 4th Special Service Brigade H.Q.). The Commission has since corrected their information about Robert.   

Most of this new research about Robert Casson was done by his niece, Mary Holland and her husband John. 

Click on 'Comments' below to read John and Mary's summary of Robert Casson


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Early life
Robert Casson was born 1st March 1919 at Whitehaven, on the west coast of what was then Cumberland (now Cumbria), which sits on the edge of the English Lake District.

He was one of eleven children born to David and Mary Ellen Casson. On leaving school he did not want to work in the coal mines, so left the area finally ending up in York and working for the confectioners, Rowntree’s.

Robert is listed in the 1939 census as lodging with a family at 5, White Cross Road, Haxby, York, a short walk from the Rowntree’s factory on Haxby Road, where he was employed as a Biscuit Baking Machine Assistant, Chocolate and Confectionary Work.

Wartime service
Robert was called up to service in the Royal Marines on 22nd February 1940. Because of his background he was put to work as a cook, rising to the ranks of Lance Corporal and Corporal.

In September 1943 he requested a transfer to the Commandos, reverting to the rank of Marine and assigned to Royal Marine, HQ Special Services Brigade, 46 Commando.

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Marine Robert Casson on D-Day, 6 June 1944
The following extract by Lieutenant Brian Lingwood, RNVR, LCI(s) 526, 202nd Flotilla is from the book “Remembering D-Day”. It captures Robert's last movements leading to his death on 6th June 1944.

“My own craft 526 (Sub Division leader) and 536 (Laidlaw) were to carry HQ Group 4th RM Commando Brigade. My sub-division turned to make our final run in to Juno beach. On watching our FO’s approach Nan Red beach, I soon realised that his group was in serious trouble.”

“Not so fortunate in my craft was the leading commando Marine Casson; the poor fellow was shot in the neck and died instantly before reaching the port ramp.”

“We proceeded slowly seaward and managed to reach the LSI Prince Henry and with the aid of a Neil Robertson stretcher, we were able to get A.R. Keen, now in much pain, transferred to obtain medical attention. Prince Henry’s priorty was to disembark troops and for this reason, they would not accept the body of Marine Casson and we gave him a rather impromtu burial at sea the next day.”

From: "Remembering D-Day: Personal Histories of Everyday Heroes"
by Martin W. Bowman (2005), Harper UK, ISBN: 9780007194506

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Burial and commemoration
What is then understood to have ocurred is that Marine Robert Casson’s body was washed up on the beach about 12 or 13 days later, temporarily buried in a marked grave by the sea wall at St Aubin sur Mer on 20th June 1944, before his final burial and resting place at Ryes Cemetery on 13th November 1944, next to his younger brother Private Joseph Casson, 14674155, of the Durham Light Infantary.

Robert Casson is listed three times in the Rowntree Employee Magazine, “Coca Works Magazine” (CWM) all with an employee reference of A784.

Firstly, in Summer 1940 following his call up to serve his country, although his name is incorrectly spelt (R Cassin).

Then in the Christmas 1942 edition, which congratulates him on his promotion to Corporal.

Finally, in Summer 1944 he is listed as one of the war fatalities, killed in action.

Being single at the time of his death, Robert’s mother received a box of chocolates from Director’s and Management of Rowntree’s every Christmas.

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

WW2 memorial for employees of Rowntrees
Extract from: 'The York Press', 5th November 2010:
Nestlé (Rowntree’s) unveils new memorial to factory’s war heroes

“A MEMORIAL to chocolate factory workers from York who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars was unveiled by a veteran of the 1939-1945 conflict.

The new stone memorial at the Nestlé factory in Haxby Road replaced a collection of older rolls of honour and two large carved wooden memorials which had been on display in various areas of the factory since the war.

The special rededication ceremony yesterday was attended by about two dozen people, including members of the Royal British Legion, Nestlé staff, and veterans including 91-year-old Ted Griffiths.

After laying a wreath of poppies at the base of the memorial, Mr Griffiths recited a line from a verse commemorating the fallen: “When you go home tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow we gave our today.”

James Maxton, Nestlé spokesman, said the new location of the memorials would ensure the public could pay their respects.

He said: “Between the two wars, 412 York Rowntree's employees were killed in service. We decided to make replicas of the two main memorials and give them a permanent home at the front of our York site so that members of the public can visit them whenever they wish. The original memorials will be preserved in our onsite archive facility.”

Photograph No 5 above shows Robert’s name being pointed out by his niece Mary on 17th June 2018.

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Commonwealth War Graves Commission record
After much research and the successful application of his service records, Robert’s family established that he was wrongly attributed to the 45 R.M. Commandos, but this has been corrected to the 46 by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The MOD issued Robert’s 4 war medals in May 2018.

The corrected Commonwealth Graves Commission citation for Robet Casson now reads as follows:
Service Number EX/3236
Died 06/06/1944
Aged 25
No.46 R.M. Commando. Royal Marines
Son of David and Mary Ellen Casson, of Whitehaven, Cumberland.
His brother Joseph Casson also fell.
Location: Calvados, France
Cemetery/memorial reference: IV. B. 2.
Robert's epitaph on his headstone:

Wednesday, 15 August, 2018  

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