My grandfather Thomas Pflugk first joined the Green Howards in 1926 at Catterick Camp when aged 19yrs. He was a career soldier and rose through the ranks to Company Sergeant Major when he was finally discharged in 1947 to the reserve. In 1930, the then Corporal took part in Public Duties in London while the battalion was stationed at Wellington Barracks. At the outbreak of WW2, aged 32, he was medically classified as B, then by 1942 downgraded to C. He spent most of his war service between Richmond, Catterick Camp & HQ Northumbrian District at Newcastle Upon Tyne.
From his service records he was giving instruction to new recruits in basic training at Catterick, including small arms weapons training and training on the 2pdr anti tank gun. While Thomas was ‘home’ based his brother Pte Walter Pflugk was serving in the Middle East with 2nd Battalion The King Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster). His battalion had been moved from Palestine to Egypt in 1940, then to Syria in June 1941 to contain the potential German and Vichy French threat. It was near Merja Ayoun that Walter died of wounds received in the short but vicious battle. He is buried in the Commonwealth War cemetery at Damascus.
In 1944, the Green Howards took part in the D-Day landings on 6th June 1944. They landed on Gold Beach near Ver-sur-Mer and moved inland towards the village of Crepon. It is here that there is the Green Howards memorial to those who fought and lost their lives on D-Day and the following months in the battle for Normandy. The only Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day was to CSM Stanley Hollis who on his own, secured two pillboxes that had been bypassed in the assault. He came under machine gun fire but managed to knock out the pillboxes thus saving the lives of many of his men.
No doubt some of the men who landed that day were trained by my grandfather. Many who landed were without battle experience and had to rely on their training. The Green Howards moved inland quickly and on the day their advance was one of the most successful.
Thomas Pflugk was discharged in 1947. He died in 1961.