Officer's Diary 28th to 30th August 1944

Invasion of Normandy

Read by Nicholas Blatchley

Creative Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Le_Havre_hiver_1944-1945.JPG?uselang=en-gb
Creative Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Le_Havre_hiver_1944-1945.JPG?uselang=en-gb

To listen to the audio clip, click play on the bar below the image on the right.

Aug 28 ’44

Our recce parties leave at 0830 hrs.  The Regt. once more lines up to move, but owing to the road congestion we do not leave untill 1700 hrs.   This was the start of a great adventure, but we did not realize how great it was going to be.  This, the first of our long moves, is a the hour journey which takes us 90 miles to the village of LA CHAPPELLE on the west bank of the SEINE.  It is very dusty on the roads after the long columns of tanks passed through, and many of us suffer from eye-strain & swollen lids.  As we arrive at our harbour area, in the undergrowth on the outskirts of the village, searchlights sweep the sky to the north over LE HAVRE and south towards Paris.

Aug 29 44 

Bleary eyed, we awake before dawn & have a hasty breakfast.  In the early morning light we journey into Vernon and, after a short wait rumble over the famous pontoon bridge, alongside the iron bridge destroyed by our bombers.  The steep bank on the east side has a commanding view of the crossing, and had the Germans been at all organised, they could have made the crossing very sticky for us.  The approach & exit of the bridge had been shelled early on but we cross without incident and roar up the steep winding road.  High banks, wooded & overgrown, flank the road, ideal for ambushes; a burnt out Recce car shows where one has succeeded. 

Further on we pass a burnt-out Panther with the blackened twisted bodies of its crew lying awkwardly on turret & hull. At the top of the hill, with the SEINE behind us, we roar into action on some open ground, now muddy from the steady rain.  Behind us the wagon lines are formed near a burning haystack & farm.  We do not remain here long.  At 1100 hrs the C.O. orders “Move independently” and again we charge across flat open fields to our new R.V.. 

On the way we pass Capt. Perry and R.B. {Recce B Troop} crew waiting in a lane with the reserve squadron of the 15/19th Hussars.  Ahead we have a fine view of the other Squadrons in extended order, advancing cautiously across open country, seeking the enemy. 

At 1430 hrs comes another quick move.  We are now at the village of CANTIERS, but remain for an hour before another advance to SAMACHES-ON-VEXIN.  Here we come into action alongside a prosperous French Chateau.  We just have time to cook a hasty meal before making another dash forward.  We pass through the town of ETREPAGNY, flags & bunting decorate the houses although the leading tanks have only just passed through. 

Our gun-area for the night is just north of this town in a small hollow.  Behind us a large explosion in the town is followed by a fire, but we are too tired to worry what caused it.  Despite the tiring day and the miserable rain everyone is elated with the advance and the hearty welcome everywhere.

Aug 30th ’44 

The advance continues in the pouring rain.  Again we move independently, B Troop a little too much so, The George truck, {carrying Troop Command Post} followed by three carriers take the wrong turning and head South instead of North.  Approaching a village they spy a tank with its gun pointing at the road.  Fortunately its a Sherman which has just liberated the village.  We have a hasty conference with the tank commander, who tells us that the last things going up the road we had just come down, was a German horse-drawn Battery.  The half –track & carriers hastily turn round & return, but not before the happy populace had plied us with wine & beer & thrust eggs into our hands. 

The Battery in the meantime have occupied an open position north of SANCOURT.  We are not called on to fire and very soon make another dash forward.  In the late afternoon there are rumours of harbour parties, and we actually set off for our new area.  The roads become very congested and the Regt is ordered off, to allow tanks of the 11th Armoured Div: to move up.

Here we wait for an hour or so, cheered by the sight of long lines of prisoners coming back down the column.  Then comes a surprise.  At 2000 hrs we are told that we are moving immediately to AMIENS, more than 70 miles away.  It gets dark early because of heavy rain, and only tail lights are allowed.  We journey through the night, passing villages whose inhabitants peer anxiously through curtained windows.  It is a great strain on our drivers & operators to keep awake, but they get us there safely.  Later we learn we have passed through 6 enemy divisions.

This page was added on 17/09/2013.

Comments about this page

  • My mother and her sister worked at Ballito before my birth in 1941 and continued seaming stockings as out-workers on machines installed at our home after my birth. I would like a copy of the photo taken 1944 which may include them, or an earlier one.

    By Brenda Fraser-Newstead (07/01/2014)

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