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gervassutti

Prescot to Omaha Beach.

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As Prescot entered the 20th century, Dominic Hopkins and his wife Ellen, both from Ballaghaderreen Co.Roscommon, were licensees of The Nag's Head, Prescot, situated in High Street on the corner with Atherton street, having previously been the licensee of the Beehive situated on the corner of Cyprus Street and Kemble Street. In 1903 Dominic died and as many licences to sell liquour would soon be revoked, including The Nag's Head's, as it had been considered that there were to many pubs per capita in the town, Ellen and most of her large family emigrated to America and settled in the mining town of West Frankfort, Illinois. Almost forty years passed without any of the family ever returning to the 'Old Country' until after WW2 had broken out when Leonard Hopkins, a grandson of Dominic's, was drafted into the army and posted to Casablanca in November 1942 as part of the Allied Force. In March of 1943 he was sent to the front line in North Africa, and later that year, in August, then moved on to Sicily where he was involved in further action. Later he was posted to Banbury for preparation for the D-Day Landing.

 

In letters to his mother, Mary, he had promised that if he was ever posted to England he would try to get to Prescot and visit the relatives and their families who had not emigrated with them forty years ago; in particular his half brother Jack, whose mother Margaret had died at his birth, and who had been left behind and 'raised' by his grand-mother in Gaskell's Passage. True to his word, having first written to Jack, he then arrived in Prescot and met his brother for the very first time. They became great friends and Leonard returned to spend many weekends with his 'new' brother meeting up with their many relatives and their families he was meeting for the first time, and no doubt visiting many Prescot hostelries on their rounds. These weekend visits continued until about the end of April when his visits suddenly stopped. In hindsight the date of D-day had probably been set and every measure was being taken to keep it a secret. One letter was eventually received by Jack from Leonard on the 11th of June, two weeks after Leonard had sent the letter. Jack immediately wrote back to Leonard but sadly his letter was returned to him on the 29th of June stamped 'Return to Sender' and 'Deceased, hand written, in the corner of the envelope. Leonard was already dead when Jack had written his letter. In just over six hours time, seventy years ago, Leonard's young life came to an end, when he was struck by machine-gun fire near the cliffs on Omaha Beach. He now lies, with many of his comrades, in his '..corner of a foreign field' , the Normandy American Cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach.

 

His mother would grieve for her youngest son for the rest of her days, but perhaps she was able at times to find some comfort knowing that in the final months of his life in the run up to D-Day, he was able to enjoy the friendship and companionship of relatives and friends who had made him so welcome on his weekend visits to Prescot.

 

 

The pictures show Leonard; The Nag's Head; Leonard with his brother Jack and wife Lizzie, and their son Jackie, in William's street, Prescot; the envelope stamped 'Return to Sender; part of the first page & last page of Jack's letter..I find the irony of the last page heartbreaking; and Leonard's grave overlooking Omaha Beach.

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Edited by gervassutti (see edit history)
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A beautiful, poignant post on this Day of Days

 

Thank you for sharing

 

"Good night then: Sleep to gather strength for the morning. For the morning will come, brightly it will shine on the brave and true, kindly upon all who suffer for the cause, glorious upon the tombs of heroes. Thus will shine the dawn.

 

VIVE LA FRANCE!

 

Long live also the forward march of the common people in all lands towards their just and true inheritance and towards the broader and fuller age".

 

The final lines of a speech to the French people by Winston Churchill made in 1940 after the fall of France and the allied evacuation from Dunkirk. Four long years would pass before morning did finally come on the 6th June 1944

Edited by stephen nulty (see edit history)
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Fantastic story, many thanks for posting.

He lies in a wonderful place - the actual cemetery is only a couple of hundred yards from the beach, that amazed me the first time I saw it - so poignant...

 

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Wonderful touching story and one that sadly would have been typical to many thousands of families at that time.We owe so much to Len and others like him,just hope that future generations appreciate the sacrifice he and his comrades made so that we could enjoy a better life.

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My Avatar is the crest of 47 Royal Marine Commando,me owl mon landed on the 6th June on Omaha beach with 47,They took the first Port of the action taking Port En Bessin by rear action on D +2.This was for ''Pluto'' pipeline under the ocean.

Amazingly enough, it never ever gets motioned in docos etc.

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Very excited and honoured to read this quote. I am a great, great, granddaughter of Patrick Hopkins. The eldest son of Dominic and Ellen who stayed in the UK when the rest of the family went to the USA.

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Welcome to the forum Skyebob28, and nice to have a relative in the forum. Of which child of Patrick and Agnes Hopkins are you directly descended: Mary Ellen, Dominic, Kate, Thomas, Rose Ann, Agnes, Peter, Joseph, or Margaret?

Edited by gervassutti (see edit history)

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Dominic was my grandfather. My mother is the last surviving child of Dominic and Rose (Tyrer). She is now 90 yrs old. I haven't any info on any of Dominic's siblings. Who are you related too?

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John who was a younger brother of Patrick and who emigrated to America, is my Grandfather, which makes us 2nd cousins once-removed. Your mother is D who married EC and you were an only daughter J? With 2 children, a boy and then a girl, at the time my family tree was last updated.

By coincidence Leonard Hopkins, nephew of Leonard who died on Omaha Beach, and named after him, along with his wife have just spent a week with me and mine in the Lake District.

Have a blurred pic of your g.grandfather Patrick holding a child, and a pic of your g.g.grandmother Ellen Hopkins(Roddy) and a fairly complete Family Tree.

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Just remembered reading this two years ago and thought it worth bringing to the top again on this date

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Thanks Stephen. Leonard had an elder brother George who survived the Normandy landings and returned home safely to Illinois. Married, he named a son Leonard who, with his wife, spent a week with us in the Lakes last summer. Leonard's death on Omaha Beach has been , as it is every year on this day, commemorated in the small town of West Frankfort, ILL. where he was born and raised and from where he set off, via North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and England, on his final journey that ended on a Normandy Beach.

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6th June was my Dad's Birthday, he would have been 102, he was also in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy with Monty and the 51st Highland Division, what a way to spend a Birthday! He also went on to Germany and was part of the liberation of Belsen. So proud of him. I Miss and Love You Dad!

 

"Montgomery later commented "Of the many fine divisions that served under me in the Second World War, none were finer than the Highland Division. It was the only infantry division in the armies of the British Empire that accompanied me during the whole of the long march from Alamein to Berlin."

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Dominic and Ellen Hopkins were my Great-Great Grandparents! Their son Dominic Daniel's son, Bernard was my Grandfather. My brother James and I visited Prescott while in England last October! I am so honored to be a part of the Hopkins Family! I am researching our heritage and this site has special meaning to me!

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