Jun

11

1944

British officer’s kukrie attack earns VC

India 1944: A Gurkha soldier transporting a wounded man on his back through the jungle. Photograph by Cecil Beaton for the ministry of information.

The Japanese who were dug in along the banks of the road and in the jungle with machine guns and small arms, were putting up the most desperate resistance. As the platoon come within twenty yards of the Bridge, the enemy opened heavy and accurate fire, inflicting severe casualties and forcing the men to seek cover. Captain Allmand, however, with the utmost gallantry charged on by himself, hurling grenades into the enemy gun positions and killing three Japanese himself with his kukrie.

Jun

10

1944

Massacre at Oradour sur Glane

The burnt out shell of the village where 642 men women and children were murdered has been preserved as a memorial.

Whilst these killings were taking place, the soldiers searched the village for any people who had evaded the initial roundup and killed them where they found them. One old invalid man was burned to death in his bed and a baby was baked to death in the local bakery ovens, other people were killed and their bodies thrown down a well. People who attempted to enter the village to see what was going on were shot dead.

Jun

9

1944

‘Tallboy’ bombs hit the Saumur Tunnel

A 12,000-lb MC bomb

I also got to use penicillin for the first time. We had these little tin cans that looked like salt shakers. They contained a mixture of penicillin and, I’m sure, sulfathiazole, and we would just use them like salt shakers and sprinkle it into the wounds. And I’ve read since, that it was that mixture of sulfa and penicillin used in those early days that saved many a limb and kept infections down to almost zero. They were both miracle drugs.

Jun

8

1944

Follow up waves arrive on the Normandy beachhead

General Sir Bernard Montgomery passes German POWs while being driven along a road in a jeep, shortly after arriving in Normandy, 8 June 1944.

Among things I noted coming ashore were the lovely fields of wild flowers enclosed by barbed wire and the grim skull and crossbones sign of the word ‘MINEN’ — MINES …a wonderful bunch of huge red poppies growing alongside some white peonies … the dusty roads which made one’s jeep throw up a dust wake like a destroyer.

Jun

7

1944

The Royal Navy bait the German artillery

HMS WARSPITE, part of Bombarding Force 'D' off Le Havre, shelling German gun batteries in support of the landings on Sword area, 6 June 1944. The photo was taken from the frigate HMS HOLMES which formed part of the escort group.

They were only waiting the order of Captain Kelsey to spit out the inferno of flame and brown smoke speeding their ton-weight of high explosive to its billet. “Open fire!” came the order from the bridge. The Director Layer – an experienced warrant officer – pressed a foot-pedal which can fire all the main armament in one mighty broadside.

Jun

6

1944

2100: 21st Panzer abandon counter-attack

A battery of M7 Priest 105mm self-propelled guns from one of 3rd Division's Royal Artillery Field Regiments near Hermanville-sur-Mer, 6 June 1944.

From here the excellent anti-tank gunfire of the Allies knocked out eleven of my tanks before I had barely started. However, one battle group did manage to bypass these guns and actually reached the coast at Lion-sur-Mer, at about seven o’clock in the evening. I now expected that some reinforcements would be forthcoming to help me hold my position, but nothing came. Another Allied parachute landing on both sides of the Orne, together with a sharp attack by English tanks, forced me to give up my hold on the coast.

Jun

6

1944

2000: Second wave of glider troops depart

Troops of 6th Airlanding Brigade smile from the door of their Horsa glider on an RAF airfield as they prepare to fly out as part of 6th Airborne Division's second lift on the evening of 6 June 1944.

Later that evening, about 9.30 to 9.45 p.m. (I remember we had a marvellous sunset), I went up on the balcony by myself and listened to the lapping of the waves. Suddenly the drone of aircraft could be heard – the tugs were on their way home. It was a very poignant moment.
I remember tears pouring down my face as I thought of all those young men who were now in France – wondering what was happening to them – was my brother amongst them. It was a very sad moment and one I will never forget.

Jun

6

1944

1500: Omaha – the battle continues

Some of the casualties on Omaha beach, vehicles still burning , although it is quite late in the day after barrage gallons went up.

I worked my way up onto the beach and staggered up against a wall and sort of collapsed there. I spent the whole day in the same position. Eventually the bodies of the other guys washed ashore and I was the only live one among so many of my friends, all of whom were dead and in many cases severely blown to pieces. It was not a very pleasant way to spend a day.

Jun

6

1944

1200: Churchill – ‘a vital and essential first step’

Churchill practising with a US sub machine during one of numerous pre invasion visits to troops training in England. Eisenhower stands a little further back.

But all this, although a very valuable first step – a vital and essential first step – gives no indication of what may be the course of the battle in the next days and weeks, because the enemy will now probably endeavour to concentrate on this area, and in that event heavy fighting will soon begin and will continue without end, as we can push troops in and he can bring other troops up.

Jun

6

1944

1000: Stanley Hollis wins only D-Day VC

Stanley Hollis VC

Wherever the lighting was heaviest CSM Hollis appeared and, in the course of a magnificent day’s work, he displayed the utmost gallantry and on two separate occasions his courage and initiative prevented the enemy from holdng up the advance at critical stages.