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News > Alumni news > In Memory > 80th Anniversary of D-Day

80th Anniversary of D-Day

The story of Trooper Percy Lee who appears on the Tiffin War Memorial
6 Jun 2024
Written by Fiona Hatcher
In Memory
A Sherman tank of 24th Lancers, 8th Armoured Brigade, passing a knocked-out German PzKpfw V Panther
A Sherman tank of 24th Lancers, 8th Armoured Brigade, passing a knocked-out German PzKpfw V Panther

To mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, here is the story of Trooper Percy Lee, who appears on the Tiffin War Memorial.

Percy Lee was the son of Charles and Ada Lee, of Battersea, and husband of Doris Lily Lee, also of Battersea. Not much is known of his time at Tiffin but he would have attended during the late 1920s. During the Second World War, Lee served in the 24th Lancers, 8th Armoured Brigade. The Lancers, equipped with US made Sherman and British adapted Firefly tanks, landed on Juno Beach in Normandy in the second wave of D-Day operations on the 6th & 7th June 1944. Lee’s unit was quickly dispatched to an area south-east of Bayeux where they had the misfortune of finding themselves against elite German armoured units of the Panzer Lehr Division and infamous SS Panzer-Division Hitlerjugend made up of teenage members of the Hitler Youth. Bitter fighting would follow during Operation Perch, which intended to encircle and capture the strategic important city of Caen to the north-east. In the ensuing battle, lasting more than a fortnight, the village of Tilly-sur-Seulles was won and lost nearly 30 times as Lee’s unit tried to dislodge the dug-in Panzer Lehr Division. 

Lee would die on 12th June 1944. Though the exact circumstances of his death are unclear, the  war diary describes how the 24th Lancers:

had some tanks KO’d by German infantry lying low and firing P.I.A.T.s (Panzerschreck anti-tank rocket launchers) from very close range. Sgt Hutchinson’s 17. Pdr (Firefly) tank was K.O’d by a 50mm at very close range.  In the evening the Regt withdrew back to the vicinity of BAYEUX in order to re-organise.

Lee, aged 28, is buried at the Tilly-sur-Seulles War Cemetery close to where he died. His family instructed that his headstone should read: “I did not see him die but I know he is at rest in God’s house on high.” His unit would go on to suffer heavy losses in two months of bitter fighting. It would eventually be dissolved with its remnants being transferred to the 23rd Hussars. The 24th Lancers lost 41 men in Normandy.

Thank you to Mr Brown for all of his research.

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