From medal recommendation:

“2722896 Lance-Corporal Patrick Gerald BRENNAN, 3rd Battalion IRISH GUARDS

This NCO was a member of a bren carrier force on 4 Aug 44 supporting SP guns which were being considerably harassed by an enemy MG nest in the area Pt 176 nr BEAULIEU. L/Cpl BRENNAN went forward alone of is own accord with a bren gun to eliminate this nest. He succeeded in silencing the enemy MG but was himself wounded in the leg in the process. In spite of his wound, however, he crawled under constant fire from other enemy weapons to s slit trench and lay there for 45 mins. He then succeeded in crawling the remaining distance to his own lines though still under fire from the enemy.

L/Cpl BRENNAN’s gallant action undoubtedly prevented other casualties amongst his comrades and at the same time enabled the SP guns to carry out their task.”

Lance-Corporal Brennan was from Belfast, and later moved to England.  His son Gerald says:

“My father was Corporal Patrick Gerald Brennan No 2722896, who served with the Guards Armoured Brigade  and was wounded near St Charles de Percy in Normandy. For his actions, he was presented with the Military Medal by King George VI.

The investiture was held on July 18th, 1945 in the Commons Chamber at Stormont, and the Royal Party were accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Abercorn. Dad was the only Irish Guard invested at the ceremony, and I think the reason it was held so long after the event was due to the severity of my Dad's wounds.

I  have the original hand-written letter from Colonel JSN FitzGerald informing Dad he had been awarded the medal. Also, a letter of congratulation, sent with the medal ribbon, signed by Major RC Alexander.

My father's last memory of Normandy was of Joe Vandeleur visiting him on his stretcher. He was shipped back to England and ended up in a military hospital in Sedgefield, Co Durham. Here, he was nursed by the woman who was later to become his wife and my mother. Due to his injuries, he had great difficulty getting a job after the war, but he eventually worked his way to have his own steel exporting company on Teesside.

Several years ago I visited St Charles de Percy and met with the local mayor who had studied the fighting that had taken part in his area. He was able to take me to the very spot where my father was injured. My most abiding memory, however, is of the military cemetery at ST CHARLES DE PERCY, which has row upon row of Irish Guards buried there. My father would not talk much about his time in action, but after I'd visited St Charles de Percy, I showed him some photographs of the gravestones of Irish Guards who were killed on the same day he himself was injured. One inscription particularly upset him; apparently he'd been wrestling with this very Guardsman on the night before the action and they'd been great friends. He found it difficult to believe that his friend was buried there and had been dead all those years, and yet he'd had no idea.

Just a few private anecdotes of a man I loved and admired greatly:

I am Pat's only child , and my son is his only grandson, so it was amazing to see how upset he was when my son told him he'd joined the REME to work on Challenger tanks. It brought my father back vivid memories of the horrors of the battle of Caen and was one of the few times he spoke of combat. He rarely wore his Military Medal, but was persuaded to do so for my son's passing out parade at Pirbright. When asked later by my son's officer where he got the medal, my father, who was quite embarrassed by it, replied that he'd bought it at the gate for half a crown!  
Sadly his wounds meant that he could never walk far, and his last two years were passed suffering from Alzheimer's, My father would rarely speak of his action, but was immensely proud of the Irish Guards.”

From War Diary, 3rd Battalion Irish Guards, 4th August, 1944:

“COURTEIL: The Bn held a position astride the road just to the WEST of COURTEIL. All coys were subjected to fairly heavy shelling and the two forward coys exchanged S.A. fire with enemy who were dug in not more than 100 yds in front of them. At Stand-To this morning, Bn HQ was itself attacked by enemy approximately a platoon in strength. This attack was broken up by a section of the Carrier platoon and Capt. W.R.R.S. BRUCE with a captured Browning mounted on his carrier - the enemy suffered heavy casualties. Casualties suffered during the day were four ORs killed and 16 ORs wounded, and were mainly caused by shelling and Mortar fire.”

From Irish Guards History, page 434:

“That day (the 4th), the 3rd Battalion widened its positions Southward. The forward companies were under constant small-arms fire from the Germans who were dug in not more than a hundred yards in front of them. No. 2 Company were ordered to send two platoons a mile south to join and protect the Armoured Brigade’s battery of self-propelled anti-tank guns who were operating on the fields and tracks east of BEAULIEU. Captain ELLISON WOODS had just arrived to take command of the Company and this was his first action. He walked up to a gateway to take a look at the fields and was killed by a sniper. Captain A. HENDRY took over command and the Company reached a low hill (Point 176) where they were joined by the self-propelled battery. Here they fought a separate battle for forty-eight hours, during which Lieutenant T. [STAFFORD-]KING-HARMAN was killed gallantly charging a Spandau. The rest of the Battalion remained all day in their positions, losing four men killed and nineteen men wounded, chiefly by shell-fire. In the late afternoon a small carrier force was sent to help Lieutenant [STAFFORD-]KING-HARMAN’s platoon, which was being constantly attacked. Lance-Corporal BRENNAN, of this force, destroyed one machine-gun himself, but was wounded in the leg in the process. His single-handed success was remarkable; even more remarkable was his long crawl back through the fields to the platoon.”

Those Irish Guardsmen who fell on that day:

Guardsman JOHN OWEN DORFIL JONES 2721820, 3rd Bn., Irish Guards who died age 26 on 04 August 1944

Son of John Dorfil Jones and Jane Jones, of Blaenau Festiniog, Merionethshire.

Remembered with honour ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY

Grave/Memorial Reference: XI. G. 11.

Guardsman RICHARD McKIBBIN 2722785, 3rd Bn., Irish Guards who died age 22 on 04 August 1944

Son of David James McKibbin and Mary McKibbin, of Liverpool.

Remembered with honour ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY

Grave/Memorial Reference: IX. A. 2.

Guardsman GEORGE LASCELLES SLOAN 2724138, 3rd Bn., Irish Guards who died age 19 on 03 August 1944

Son of W. J. and Bessie Sloan, of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Remembered with honour ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY

Grave/Memorial Reference: IX. G. 1.

Lieutenant THOMAS EDWARD STAFFORD-KING-HARMAN 200112, 3rd Bn., Irish Guards who died age 22 on 04 August 1944

Son of Sir Cecil William Francis Stafford King-Harman, 2nd Bt., and of Lady Stafford King-Harman (nee Acland), of Rockingham, Co. Roscommon, Irish Republic.

Remembered with honour BAYEUX WAR CEMETERY

Grave/Memorial Reference: XV. E. 23.

Please note that CWGC have only 3 Other Ranks whose date of death corresponds with the 4th August and Captain Ellison Woods’ date of death is noted by them as 3rd August:

Captain ELLISON MURRAY WOODS 149144, 3rd Bn., Irish Guards who died age 27 on 03 August 1944

Son of John Murray Woods and Margaret Edith Constance Woods; husband of Aileen Woods, of South Kensington, London. B.A. (Oxon).

Remembered with honour ST. CHARLES DE PERCY WAR CEMETERY

Grave/Memorial Reference: V. G. 14.

Quis Separabit

Sources: TNA; The Times; G. Brennan; History of the Irish Guards in Second World War, FitzGerald

Photo: IG Journal