Remembering Sgt Vic Bettle: A Story From the Battlefields

On a Battlefield tour, it’s not unusual to come across group members with personal connections to the tour they are on. Whether it be through a distant relative, great-grandparents or even a parent.

On one of our recent Battlefield tours, D-Day Landings in Normandy, a passenger of ours had set out on a truly personal trip. Ruth Bettle was on the tour following the footsteps of her late husband, Sergeant Vic Bettle.
Sgt Vic Bettleimg044
Sergeant Bettle was part of the 7th Parachute Battalion, would have jumped in or around the Pegasus Bridge area of Normandy on D-Day, 6th June, 1944, as part of Operation Tonga. The Parachute Battalion were tasked with giving support to the D Coy of 2nd (Airborne) Battalion Ox & Bucks Light Infantry led by Major John Howard.
What we know is that 7 Para Bn advanced to the area of Putot-en-Auge in August 1944.
Ruth had received correspondence from a French national several years ago who had been staying in a château in the town of Putot-en-Auge. The grounds of the château played host to a barn, it was in this barn that he had come across something special.
Ruth Bettle at the Barn
He had found an inscription signed ‘Sgt Vic Bettle, 7th parachute Batallion, 19 August 1944’. The inscription simply read ‘We chased them out this morning’.
The tour was led by our Battlefield Guide, Fred Greenhow, who after speaking to Ruth, arranged for our drivers, Chris and Brenda, to take a drive out to the château in the early evening of Sunday 5th April.
The owners were away at the time, however, with much persuasion and the use of Fred’s ‘Geordie Charm’, the young girl who lived in the ‘gate-keepers’ house allowed them access to the barn.
Ruth Bettle_The Inscription_5 Apr 2015The Inscription_19 Aug 1944
“It was an absolute ‘Condor Moment’” Said Fred. “When I was able to take the wife (Ruth Bettle) of a Veteran back to the place where her late husband wrote an inscription on the wall of a barn in the grounds of a Chateau / Manor House, and the inscription is still there and as clear as the day it was written over 70 years ago.”
“Ruth was absolutely overwhelmed when we found the Chateau in the village of Putot-en-Auge, approximately 30 km’s to the East of Caen. Her husband Sgt Vic Bettle who served with 7 Para Bn, wrote his message on the 19th August 1944, it was discovered by a Frenchman in 1998, who tracked down Vic by writing to Gen Napier Crockenden, 6 Airborne Division Association.”
On a Battlefield tour, you’re heading off on a journey of learning, understanding and appreciation, when we can reunite family and friends with a sense of their past, it’s something we are very proud of. Thanks to Fred, and to Ruth and her daughter Karen, we can share this story and keep the memory of Sgt Vic Bettle alive.
Sgt Vic Bettle on a previous trip to Pegasus Bridge after Operation Tongaimg047
Interesting Fact: ‘The Longest Day’, a war film from 1962 featuring John Wayne, Richard Burton and Sean Connery, covers Operation Tonga.  The actor Richard Todd OBE, who appeared in the film, served alongside Sgt Bettle in the 7 Para Bn and also played the role of Major John Howard. Another actor played Richard in the film.

75 Replies to “Remembering Sgt Vic Bettle: A Story From the Battlefields”

  1. Hi this is my Dad Victor Bettle,i took him back in 1993 to where he was during WW2 on D.Day Pegusus Bridge near Caen France. we went via the ferry over night from Portsmouth he was 75 years old then and he loved the trip although he did shed a tear when we visited the grave yard at Ranville as a lot of his mates were killed during the operation to secure the bridges etc from the Germans on and after D Day,he told me a story that i had not heard before while we were there that the Germans had laid a trap a bomb so as to kill his battalion as they were crossing one of the bridges and around 20 of his regiment were blown up and he and the other survivors had to collect all the body parts out of the tree,s which really affected him i can not Imagen having to do that i think it was after that incident that he was made acting Color Sergeant as the Sergeant had been killed,my Dad would have only been 24 years old at that time as he was just 19 years old when the war broke out in 1939 ,,my Dad died aged 93 in 2912 at a nursing home in Waterlooville,Hampshire and near to the end of his life he had really bad flashbacks of those war years and quite often was in tears about it which was very sad for us his family to witness,,so i must finish now as i could go on and on as i have so many stories that my Dad told me i only wish i had sat down and recorded them with him for future generations but i never did always thinking i must do that before its too late and then its too late,,,thanks for reading,Trevor Bettle

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