1300: Minesweepers head the invasion fleet

The minesweeper HMS Speedwell.

The minesweeper HMS Speedwell.

Both sides had been engaged in intensive programmes of minelaying at sea. The Allies had been laying thousands of mines around the coastal areas they were not going to attack, in an attempt to keep the German E boats confined.

Off the coast of Normandy there were substantial minefields to be swept and senior Naval officers considered this to be an especially dangerous task in which they were bound to sustain casualties.

Telegraphist Leslie Corney was on board the Minesweeper HMS Speedwell:

Monday 5th

Sailed at 1300 for France — many guesses as to where we’ll land. Our job is to sweep a channel through the enemy minefield to let everything else go in. We go in first — not a pleasant prospect. Told that at one spot a 16 inch shore gun can be brought to bear on us — unless the R.A.F. can knock it out.

The weather during the afternoon very choppy. We all expect things being called off. Wind and sea eased off in the early evening and the weather seemed quite good.

Began to sweep about 2000 and swept all night. Things very quiet except for colossal numbers of aircraft going over – ours fortunately! No trouble from shore gun — thanks to R.A.F.!

See full diary at BBC People’s War

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