University of Oxford
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Sargeant Hugh Wren: From D-Day to Victory

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 19:46 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

Hugh Ronald Wren ran away to war and joined the Royal West Kent Regiment. His Grandma tried to find him and, 18 months later, succeeded. He had an aptitude for guns and became a "spotter" (went ahead and did a recce on the enemy territory). He was supposed to be the first to land on D-day as he needed to carry out his important role. However, his boat engine failed, and his team was adrift in the Channel, so they landed in the dark on 7th June. One of the other boats picked them up and took them on to the beach.

Hugh went up the beach under heavy bombardment and immediately dug a foxhole to defend his position from incoming fire from cruisers on the beach. He was part of the core troops. He said that the most dangerous thing was an Officer with a map, An Officer transported them in a Land Rover and ended up going into enemy fire and had to reverse at top speed. He said that the first thing to do is dig a trench.

He fought the Germans who were using Schmeiser MP38 pistols. The pistols fired 50 rounds a minute with 3 seconds to reload he found he could escape in 3 seconds.

He was in the Battle of Arnhem close to the Falaise Gap in August trying to break through, but SS troops prevented this. He overwintered in Holland and then crossed the Rhine. He met his uncle for 2 hours, Major Ted Goldring, with the 7th Royal Dragoons where he was Quartermaster.

He was then on Scheled, a strategic Dutch island, where the Germans had left troops. The Germans had lost all communications and didn't know about the Armistice. The Germans had no bullets at the end and so made bullets out of wood which splintered and therefore made awful wounds.

Hugh went into the concentration camps only identifiable by the presence of ovens; these camps were dotted everywhere. He also was based in Prisoner of War camps where the German prisoners made wonderful drawings, wooden coasters inlaid with cartridge cases and decorated with food dyes, and architectural drawings (all photographed).


Item list and details

(1) and (2) Major Ted Goldring postcard image. Relationship to interviewee is Grandma's brother. Does not take part in this story. (3)-(11) Hugh's release and Service book details (12) and(13) Sewing kit belonged to Hugh and passed to son when in cadets. (14) Coasters made by political prisoners Hugh guarded. Brass from shell cass and fruit juice was used for dyes. (15) -(24) Folder of drawings and house design for Hugh drawn by a architect trained prisoner. These were done after the end of the war, but prisoners remained in PoW camps for a while and had to be guarded. (25) Hugh's picture in a locket worn by his mother after he joined up to the Queen's Own Royal West Kents

Person the story/items relate to

Hugh Wren

Person who shared the story/items

Ian Wren

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor


Type of submission

Shared at West Meads Community Hall, West Sussex on 11 November 2023. The event was organised by Bognor Regis u3a.

Record ID

105599 | BOG017