W J M Raynsford joined the army in early 1941 aged 18 and after officer training joined the 2nd Northants Yeomanry, an armoured unit that had mobilised in 1939. An obviously talented young man, he quickly accelerated through the ranks and became a Captain in the same year when he performed the duties of Regimental Adjutant.
In 1943, he was Second i/c “A” Squadron, a position he held when he went ashore on Gold Beach on D-Day + 6, June 12 1944. The Regiment had been attached to the 11th Armoured Div and given the role of reconnaissance regiment, a hazardous task that required them to probe the enemy’s frontal units and provide Div. HQ with accurate data on troop types and numbers.
Once ashore they moved forward the 12 miles to their allotted front line position and to wait for their first combat directive which quickly came, and by June 26 they were involved in Operation Epsom. Their orders were to support the 15th Scottish Div taking the village of Cheux and once taken “A” Squadron would push forward on to the River Odon and capture the bridges beyond the village. The destruction encountered in Cheux was considerable and “A” Squadron’s advance was delayed by German snipers and infantry units equipped with the rifle-fired Panzer Faust, an anti tank weapon. Sadly on that summer’s day 26th June 1944 Capt W Raynsford, now aged 23 and far away from Milton Malsor, gave up his life for King and country and was killed by a single shot fired from a sniper’s rifle.
In that one brief moment of time, one more life that held out so much hope and promise for his family and future was gone.