6th June 1944 remembered by Dr Chris Ware

 

WARSPITE-D-DAY-FIRES

With all of the statistics quoted, 6th June 1944 was a personal journey for each soldier, sailor and airman involved.  The 50th Division (Northumbrian) was tasked with assaulting Gold Beach. The center of the sector was named jig, itself split into two between jig Green and jig Red sectors.

At 07:26 as the tide was at the flood the first wave came ashore, with the infantry and Royal Marine Commandoes there were three Field Companies of Royal Engineers and amongst them a 21 old Sapper who had been called up in 1942, he had been stationed at Catterick and then Woodbridge. As his landing craft neared the shore he stepped off the ramp and disappeared into the swell up to his neck. Carrying his rifle above his head he waded ashore to be greeted by the German static defences. Once ashore he, and his comrades had to wait whilst Naval gunfire cleared the way, including part of Gold Beach HMS Warspite going into rapid fire with her 15 inch guns over open sights.

He would take part in assault on Caen and the Falaise gap, and be present at Nijmegen and the withdrawal from Arnhem. In all the years that I knew him my father spoke perhaps twice about these experiences, it was matter of fact; he got cold and wet, he never spoke of fear and of whether he might not have survived, death was only mentioned once, having witnessed the onslaught at Falaise, and this shortly before he died.

Having studied history for the last thirty some years as an historian I still find it hard to comprehend what he did and how over time he simply put it behind him, a distant memory, almost as if it were another person, of such is history made.

 



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