Saturday, 6 June 2009

6th June 1944

“ The long line of beach lay ahead and immediately behind hung a thick pall of smoke as far as the eye could see, with the flashes of bursting shells and rockets pock-marking it along the whole front. We had the word from the Suby [the Royal Navy Sub Lieutenant commanding their LCA] to get ready and the tension was at its peak when we hit bottom, down goes the ramp, out goes the captain with me close behind. We were in the sea to the tops of our thighs. Floundering ashore, we were in the thick of it. To the right and left the other assault platoons were hitting the beach. Mortar bombs and shells erupting the sand and the ‘breep – brurp’ of Spandau machineguns cutting through the din. There were no shouts, everyone knew his job and was doing it without saying a word. There was only the occasional cry of despair as men were hit and went down. The beach was filled with half-bent running figures – from experience, we knew that the safest place was as near to Jerry as we could get. A near one blasts sand all over me and my radio set goes dead (during a quiet period later on, I find that shrapnel has riddled my set, and that also a part of my tunic collar has gone). A sweet rancid smell is everywhere, never forgotten by those who smell it – burnt explosives, torn flesh and ruptured earth.” Mr I. G. Holley, wireless operator, 'B' Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Hampshire Regiment, Gold Beach, 6th June 1944
“ After sailing, below deck we made a very special study of our maps, checked our arms and ammunition and had plenty of hot soup provided by one of the crew. June the 6th, soon after dawn, we were crouching low on the deck and to our left a battleship was firing, and above a few Spitfires to cover us in. At this point the enemy gunners were trying to get our range and shells were bursting all around us. Soon we were heading for our part of the Normandy coast, and at once all hell seemed to break out. As the enemy machine gunners opened up, very calmly the LCI crew dropped the landing ramps down, and with good luck from the crew we started on our way through the sea. Part of our task was to reach the airborne forces who in the night had taken and were holding the bridge, now named Pegasus Bridge. After leaving the beach we made our way through open grassland, and all around the Germans had placed notice boards warning of mines. But by a careful study of the ground we found the way across a part where cattle had been grazing some days before. We moved so fast that we were on to one group of Germans drinking coffee in the edge of a field. Our instructions had to be carried out. Push on to the bridge, never mind the odds." W.H. Jeffries, No. 6 Commando, Sword Beach, 6th June 1944

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

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