D-DAY: The 75th Anniversary

6 June 2019

Today is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day..

As a firm that has signed the Armed Forces Covenant and who is proud if its historic and current linkages with the Forces, we thought that we would share a part of our history about how the last member of the Gepp family who worked in the firm, played a small (but vital) role on the 6th June 1944 on the beaches of Normandy.

In 1939, at the age of 20, Tom Gepp volunteered to join the Essex Yeomanry in Colchester and was Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  In September he was summoned to serve with the 413 Battery, 147 (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery.   Until the Normandy Invasion on D-Day his unit spent their time being trained and Second Lieutenant Gepp worked his way up the ranks to Captain.  By the time the unit deployed he and his colleagues were well-trained and keen to play their part in the downfall of Hitler's regime. 

As one of the unit's Forward Observer Officers (the people who are embedded with the front-line troops and direct the fire of the guns to support their operations) he was selected for a special role on D-Day.  Until the land forces could establish themselves in the beach head their artillery fire had to be provided by the guns on the Royal Navy ships. 

Tom Gepp was selected to be the Artillery Liaison Officer on the leading Destroyer off Gold Beach.  He would receive the calls for fire from the Forward Observer Officers on the ground and he would control the fire of the naval ship's guns.  Obviously firing from a ship that was rolling in heavy seas was a difficult, but vital task and Tom did so with his characteristic aplomb ensuring that the units fighting their way up the beaches had the fire support they needed where and when it was required.

Following the initial assault on Gold beach he disembarked from his destroyer and re-joined 511 Battery, 147 (Essex Yeomanry) Field Regiment and then fought with his unit from the Normandy beaches through France, Belgium and Holland to Bremen in Germany.  His regiment, who were equipped with Sexton self-propelled guns (using 25-pounder field guns mounted on a Sherman tank chassis), was the first British artillery unit to fire its guns into Germany on 21 November 1944.

Our linkages with the military continue today.  Our Senior Partner, Roger Brice and his team of criminal defence solicitors specialise in Military Law and Alexandra Dean, our head of Employment Law, has become an expert in Military Employment Law.  Our CEO spent 36 years in the Army serving in both the Royal Engineers and Army Air Corps.  

As a result, we are well placed to offer advice and support members of the Armed Forces community with their legal needs