A World War Two veteran’s dying wish will be fulfilled in April at a world premiere of a documentary about one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
Sergeant gunner Albert Figg, from Canterbury, took part in the battle for Hill 112 in Normandy as the Allies pressed south after D-Day in 1944. It was one of the costliest battles of the war and one in which he lost many of his colleagues; he never forgot them.
Albert spent the last 30 years of his life creating a memorial on the crest of Hill 112, but when he died in 2017 his last wish, for a documentary to be made of the event, was unfulfilled.
Now, five years after his death, the old soldier’s wish will come true when award-winning film-maker Peter Williams’ feature-length documentary of the battle enjoys its world premiere.
A Canterbury Tale: Albert Figg and the Battle for Hill 112 will be screened for the first time in the Great Hall at Kent College, on Tuesday 12 April, 2022 in the presence of The Lord Mayor of Canterbury, Cllr Pat Todd, and The Lady Mayoress, Dr Elizabeth McGown.
The civic premiere will mark the bravery of the 7,000 men who died as the Allies fought Hitler’s Panzers for control of the hill, just outside Caen, that was vital to the success of the invasion and the eventual Allied victory.
It also marks an important stage in Albert’s personal mission to mark that bravery and ensure that his comrades in arms will never be forgotten.
While the memorial, which features a Churchill tank, a 25-pounder field gun, a statue of an infantryman and 112 trees in the shape of a cross, creating pathways of remembrance, was established during his lifetime, he made a personal request to Peter Williams to finish the film.
“I was humbled to be asked to complete the film that shows what Albert and his comrades went through and I am delighted that it will be screened in front of civic guests in such a splendid location,” Williams commented. “Working closely with the Imperial War Museum, we tell the story of the battle from planning to climax. It’s certainly one that deserves telling.”
The film is being funded by the Hill 112 Memorial Foundation, set up and chaired by Albert Figg’s daughter Annette Oliver. She said her father would be “overjoyed” at the film’s detailed telling of the Hill 112 story.
The charity is hoping that the film will help bring in more vital funds to allow the foundation to complete the memorial at Hill 112 and keep it well maintained. Work still needs to be done on the Remembrance Garden, including drainage and lighting and making good the walkways.
“We still need help from supporters and anyone who values the bravery of the men who helped secure the Allied victory in 1945,” said Annette. “The charity works hard to keep their memory alive but needs funds to continue the project in Albert’s name.”
There will be a second showing of the film on Wednesday 13 April. Tickets (priced £12) are on sale through the Canterbury Festival Box Office, via www.canterburyfestival.co.uk or by telephoning 01227 457568 (office hours).
The performances are being sponsored by Kent Estate Agents Charles Bainbridge.