Fletcher, David Francis
He was the younger son of Sir Arthur George Murchison Fletcher KCMG, CBE, of Putney, London, and Lady Fletcher (née Violet Dorothy Rogers-Harrison, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Rogers-Harrison). From Twyford he joined his brother, Derek George Murchison Fletcher DSO (I 1929-1934) at Sunnyside. He reached VIth Book, played cricket and soccer for the House, and left as a prefect.
He went to Trinity College, Oxford, but after a trip to the USA, which fired his imagination and ambition, went down in 1937 without a degree, and spent some time learning German in Hamburg and business in a London office. In 1939 he joined the Queen’s Westminsters (King’s Royal Rifle Corps, TA) as a 2nd Lieutenant, and by September 1940 was Liaison Officer at GHQ, Home Forces.
As such he had a bad motor accident, breaking his neck, and was convalescing for many months. He later joined 2nd Battalion, King’s Royal Rifle Corps (2KRRC), and his fighting began at El Alamein where, though wounded in both legs, he did splendid work as an Intelligence Officer. Rejoining his unit from hospital in Cairo, he went through the rest of the African campaign, getting command of his company, and on to Italy, being promoted Major in October 1943.
2KRRC landed in Normandy on June 7th 1944 with Fletcher’s ‘B’ Company affiliated as supporting infantry to 44 RTR, a Sherman tank unit. In the difficult terrain of Normandy, infantry and tanks depended on one another to a huge extent.
2KRRC formed the infantry element of the independent 4 Armoured Brigade, commanded by the brilliant Brigadier R.M.P. Carver DSO, MC (G1928-1933), later a Field-Marshal; Carver was only twenty-nine when he took over the Brigade in July 1944, its former commander having been wounded. 4 Armoured Brigade was attached to whatever formation needed its services: this meant that it was frequently in the thick of the action. They saw action on 29th June as part of Operation Epsom, losing thirteen tanks in the ferocious fighting. A week was spent in reserve before the brigade then moved into action again as part of Operation Jupiter with the aim of gaining control of the vital Hill 112 (it was said that whoever controlled Hill 112 controlled Normandy).
The Battle for Normandy was drawing to an end when on 28th July 4 Armoured Brigade were transferred to serve under Canadian command.
Fletcher met his death on 16th August 1944 when, according to the Wykehamist War Service Register and Roll of Honour, he went forward to reconnoitre in the Falaise Gap and was killed by mortar fire, aged twenty-six. He was buried by his own car’s crew at Trapel.
However, the Normandy veteran and author Patrick Delaforce (B1937-1942) describes the circumstances of Fletcher’s death slightly differently in his history of 4 Armoured Brigade (Monty’s Marauders, Sutton 1993): “The Germans were fighting dozens of brilliant little rearguard actions all across the front. Indeed, a counter-attack on the 16th near Treprel caused ‘B’ Company 2 KRRC twenty-three casualties, including Major D.F. Fletcher, who had been with the battalion since Alamein, killed. And ‘C’ Company had fifteen casualties from shell and mortar fire, including three officers.”
He now rests in grave IX.D.25 of the Ranville War Cemetery.
- Surname: Fletcher
- Forenames or initials: David Francis
- House: I
- Years in School: 1931-1936
- Rank: Major
- Regiment: Kings Royal Rifle Corps
- Date of Birth: 20th March 1918
- Date of Death: 16th August 1944
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner G2
- Decoration: NA
- Burial Site: Ranville War Cemetery: Grave IX.D.25