Tuesday, 6 June 2017

73 years ago my uncle landed...

An extract from the memoirs of my uncle, 7941218 Trooper Jones R, Driver/Mechanic in 'B' Squadron, 24th Lancers who was involved in the D-Day landings - 

"We went from Milford to a holding camp at Winchester where we fed by the Americans but had the chance to explore one of England's oldest cities. After one false start we went to Southampton and embarked in a whale of a ship called the "John I. Jones", an American owned and manned ship. Ours was the last tank to board. The food was American and strange to my tastes, things like peaches and meat, a spoonful of potatoes and a little bread. Gallons of coffee. They were very kind to us for the four days we were on board.One day the heavy guns of the Navy were enough to deafen anyone and the air was filled with aircraft in their thousands going back and forth. By two o'clock the ship had gone as near the shore as she could and we waited while a large raft came alongside and started loading. The lorries first of all, then the tanks. We drove slowly on to the barge in case it capsized. The raft was so long the helmsman had great difficulty in keeping it heading for the shore, but land was slowly getting nearer. The co-driver and I were sealed in and eventually the order came "Start up, Taff" and into the water we went and slowly drove on to dry land. I believe our tank was the first of our regiment to land. We landed at 6.30 on June 6th. Our D-Day had arrived!What was the reaction? Fear certainly with the heart pounding away. The bodies floating in the sea were proof that this was no child's play, but you had to hide your fears and listen carefully to the tank commander's directions as we were still under seal and could see very little ourselves. The vision through the periscope was minimal and we had to rely on someone who could see what was going on. I saw a row of men coming to meet us with their hands on their heads - these were the first POWs for me to see. We went out of the village into a large field to wait for the regiment to assemble. In the next field a cow lay feet up to show that everything was endangered here."

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