0800: Green Howards land on Gold Beach

German POWs being escorted along one of the Gold area beaches, 6 June 1944.

German POWs being escorted along one of the Gold area beaches, 6 June 1944.

This was the account of Kenneth Taylor, an officer with 6th Battalion Green Howards:

Awakened early in the darkness. Ship rolling considerably but not feeling sick yet. Went on deck into the cold air to watch the glow over the French coast where the RAF is busy. Over on the right the sky is alight with flares, probably on the American sector.

Wondering when I will first hear the enemy shells coming over. Had a very good breakfast despite the rough sea – probably the last for a long time. Got dressed up and went to action deck about 0430hrs. Everyone in high spirits and singing to the mouth organ. Whisky and rum being passed round freely. After a long time went up and embarked into LCM about 0530.

Quite light now and French coast can be seen dimly. Surrounded by ships but everything going on without interference. Had great difficulty in casting off owing to rough sea. Circled round for about half an hour and then made for coast about 7 miles away. Aircraft could be heard roaring overhead. Sea very unpleasant but most people too excited to be seasick. Had to tow one LCA some of the way but the rope kept snapping so left it. RAF and Navy making enormous noise and SP artillery putting over terrific barrage.

Eventually approached beach and found things difficult. Kept grounding and hitting obstacles with shells falling in water. Made a few attempts to get close in but failed. Eventually decided to climb out but the ramp refused to go down at first. Shrapnel hitting craft so we jumped for it at 0800hrs and water only up to waist.

27 [Radio] set got wet thro’ and would not work. Cairns hit in leg. Stopped a few minutes at edge of beach. Woods hit in eye. Got on to coast road where things were unpleasant owing to mortars and shells flying around and minefield on both sides. Some logs on the side of the road provided welcome protection.

Glad to find myself not unduly worried and able to walk around and see how people were getting on. Most of them OK but a few rather shaken. Quite a number of prisoners coming in looking completely dazed. “Achtung Minen” notices on roadside stick in my mind. Very glad to move up road away from the beach where things a little quieter. Grass on fire provided a useful smoke screen. Moved thro’ Ver sur Mer and was “Spandau’ed” a little.

Talked to a few prisoners including Russians. Held up at Crepon by 88s and Spandaus but by-passed them and stopped for a brew-up. On moving forward shelled and mortared and made one hasty exit from M14. Rainford killed.

Dug in then moved fwd to overlook St Gabriel and dug in again. Drinking Champagne when disturbed again by Jerry. At about 2000hrs saw 4 of our tanks blazing. Put in final attack S of St Gabriel and stopped in wood at dark. Gibson wounded. We are the furthest forward troops of the whole invasion and fairly near our objective. The morale was very high and we have moved very quickly, by-passing any opposition where possible.

Read the whole diary at Patrick Taylor

Men of 6th Battalion, the Green Howards in an assault landing craft during Exercise 'Fabius', 5 May 1944.

Men of 6th Battalion, the Green Howards in an assault landing craft during Exercise ‘Fabius’, 5 May 1944.

Meanwhile on Sword beach …

The view from LCT 610 carrying Sherman tanks of 13th/18th Royal Hussars during the initial assault on Queen Red beach, Sword area, in front of strongpoint ‘Cod’, circa 0800 hrs, 6 June 1944. A flail tank of 'A' Squadron, 22nd Dragoons burns after being hit, and other tanks and infantry can be seen making for the beach.

The view from LCT 610 carrying Sherman tanks of 13th/18th Royal Hussars during the initial assault on Queen Red beach, Sword area, in front of strongpoint ‘Cod’, circa 0800 hrs, 6 June 1944. A flail tank of ‘A’ Squadron, 22nd Dragoons burns after being hit, and other tanks and infantry can be seen making for the beach.

An M10 Wolverine 3-inch self-propelled gun of 20th Anti-Tank Regiment on Queen Red beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.

An M10 Wolverine 3-inch self-propelled gun of 20th Anti-Tank Regiment on Queen Red beach, Sword area, 6 June 1944.

The view from LCT 610 carrying Sherman tanks of 13th/18th Royal Hussars during the initial assault on Queen Red beach, Sword area, in front of strongpoint ‘Cod’, circa 0800 hrs, 6 June 1944. Another LCT makes for the beach, beyond which smoke and flame billow from a burning flail tank of 'A' Squadron, 22nd Dragoons.

The view from LCT 610 carrying Sherman tanks of 13th/18th Royal Hussars during the initial assault on Queen Red beach, Sword area, in front of strongpoint ‘Cod’, circa 0800 hrs, 6 June 1944. Another LCT makes for the beach, beyond which smoke and flame billow from a burning flail tank of ‘A’ Squadron, 22nd Dragoons.

Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade crouch on Queen beach, Sword area, before moving inland, 6 June 1944.

Commandos of 1st Special Service Brigade crouch on Queen beach, Sword area, before moving inland, 6 June 1944.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: