The D-Day landings left an enormous impression on ordinary people in Normandy. This drawing is the work of a young French boy who watched REME personnel recovering vehicles from the sands on Tuesday 6 June 1944.

By coming out of the sea we bring ourselves victory, drawing by a young French boy, 1944. Given to a member of 27th Armoured Brigade. A:2012.5580. © Unknown.

His drawing features the eye-catching seahorse formation sign of the 27th Armoured Brigade, a British Army group that took part in D-Day. They chose the seahorse because many members of the Brigade came from cavalry regiments. In their new job they would be using amphibious vehicles that worked on land and in the water.  The seahorse was a joke between the soldiers.

The seahorse formation sign of the 27th Armoured Brigade on the sleeve of a battledress blouse, worn by William ‘Bill’ Leppard on 6 June 1944, his thirtieth birthday. A:2014.7110.14.

REME soldiers worked with the 27th Armoured Brigade to repair their special vehicles. That’s why the artist has drawn a REME badge on top of the seahorse. The badge he has painted is the first pattern REME personnel wore which looks quite different to the one used today. The horse and lightning pattern was introduced in 1947.

Around the central shield, our artist has written a French phrase that translates as 'By coming out of the sea we bring ourselves victory'. The Allied seaborne invasion marked the start of Operation Overlord, the successful liberation of German-occupied France. Within a year of the landings Germany had unconditionally surrendered, meaning the end of World War Two in Europe.

This charming drawing documents REME’s crucial contribution to the Normandy landings and makes clear the importance of D-Day to eventual Allied victory.

Find out more

Learn more about REME’s role on D-Day in our blog, documenting our 2019 display, D-Day 75.

Read about a vehicle REME designed and deployed on D-Day, the Sherman BARV.