Ronald Burdett Coy 1918-1944

Ronald Burdett Coy was born 10th January 1918, Radcliffe on Trent, the younger son of Arthur Frederick Coy and Edith Ellen Burdett. He had a brother William, born 1909, and a sister Iris, born 1917.

In 1939 Ronald and his parents were living at Saxondale hospital where his father was employed. Ronald was a bricklayer. He married Gladys Irene Dolman of Sneinton Dale in 1940 and they had a son Malcolm, born 1944.

It is not known what date he enlisted as a Private in the Dorsetshire Regiment, 4th Battalion, Service no 14208466. The service numbering system changed in 1943 when all soldiers joining the army was allocated a number from one block commencing 14200001, regardless of Regiment.

In 1939 the expansion of Britain’s Territorial Army caused the Dorsets’ TA battalion, the 4th, to form a sister battalion, the 5th.  Brigaded together in 43rd Wessex Division, the two battalions were inseparable throughout the war.

After spending nearly five years of war in the UK, guarding the south coast against invasion and then training for the invasion of France, the 43rd Wessex Division landed in Normandy seventeen days after D-Day.  Their first major battle was near Maltot on 10th July 1944 when the Division attacked the German positions on and around Hill 112, a feature which dominated the surrounding country and was seen as the key to holding Normandy.  In a fierce and costly battle, the Germans defended their positions resolutely, exacting a high price.  At some cost the 4th Dorsets captured Eterville while the 5th Dorsets and the 7th Hampshires attacked Maltot.  In the confusion of battle the brigade commander thought Maltot had been captured and ordered the 4th to join the battle.  As they closed on the village a hurricane of machine gun and anti-tank gun fire burst upon them.  Maltot cost the 4th Dorsets 348 casualties and the 5th also lost heavily.  On Hill 112 the sun set on bloody stalemate.  The 43rd Wessex Division and their Wehrmacht and SS opponents had fought each other to a standstill.  For the Dorsets and their fellow infantrymen Hill 112 would remain a yardstick of horror, against which all future battles would be measured.

Having received reinforcements, both battalions joined in the push south beyond Caumont, fighting fierce battles at Cahagnes and Jurques on their way to Ondefontaine towards Mont Pincon which (like Hill 112) dominated a large area of Normandy.  By 9th August the Dorsets were on Mont Pincon, which had fallen to 129 Brigade.

Information courtesy of Keep Military Museum

Ronald Burdett Coy was killed on 2nd August 1944; his grave is in Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery, Calvados, France.

Some of the fiercest fighting of the Normandy campaign of 1944 took place around Hill 112 near Caen. The brunt of it was borne by the 43rd (Wessex) Division, of which 4 Dorsets and 5 Dorsets were part. The 43rd Division memorial is on the top of Hill 112, while replicas have been erected at Mere in Wiltshire, at Wynyards Gap in Dorset and on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall.