It is hard to remember everything. We had taken part in a number of invasion
exercises during the spring of 1944. Many will remember places like FORT GEORGE,
so it will be difficult to believe that on June 5th as we lay in the bright
sunshine outside of Gosport that we were on the eve of the invasion of FRANCE.
On that morning we had received our maps, and for the first time, showing which section of the beach we were going to land.
The 13/18 Royal Hussars were going to spearhead the invasion.
D.D tanks to be launched 8000 yards off the shore: H hour minus 7minutes and to land on and hold Sword beach until the main forces arrived. Then to support the 3rd BRITISH INFANTRY and to assist the SUFFOLK REGIMENT to take the German strong points named MORRIS, then to attack and take HILLMAN.
Leaving England, the journey across the channel was something many will always remember. Somehow we managed to sleep aboard the LTC that night, as the invasion had been put back until the morning of June 6th for reason of bad weather. Early that morning the word ‘GO’ was given.
With a heavy swell and strong winds the landing craft took up their position, in the mist, heading for the French coast. One or two tummies were feeling the effects of the heavy swell and with the sickly look on some faces, dry land could not come quick enough. Even a cheerful wisecrack could not bring a smile – many had their own thoughts, ‘how many would see England again’.
During the crossing my mind wondered back to Sept 3rd 1939. At 11oclock that morning, standing by our beds at the barracks at SHORNCLIFF, war was declared.
We had only arrived back from INDIA 6 months earlier, to take over Tanks, and as a Cavalry regiment, we were used to horses only.
By the 18th Sept. the regiment was in FRANCE at the town of BREST. We were told that we had the finest tanks in the world. German tanks were as thin as cardboard. Later we found out how strong that thin cardboard was! Still the British soldier will tackle anything with confidence and struggle ahead. Such was the officers and men of the 13/18 Royal Hussars QMO. Even if badly trained (many untrained soldiers were sent to join the experienced, and with poor equipment). Many lessons were learnt in the next 8 months.
Leaving BREST we moved to BORIE NOTRE DAME, 8 miles south of ARRAS. Here we learnt about tank warfare.
We spent 7 days in the SOMME valley. This period was called the phoney war. There were several false alarms about when we would move up to our forward billet at La- VERDERIE on the Belgian border.
In May the Germans entered Holland and the phoney war was over.
Ahead of us was a 200-mile drive to BRUSSELS. Girls showered us with garlands of flowers and kisses; little did we realise the reception we would get on our return.
At our forward point called BRIEL we met the German infantry and pushed them back 5 miles to a place called TIRLEMONT and here we met the real German forces. There was nothing cardboard about their tanks. They blew us to pieces, no way could we stop them- this was real war, men killed and wounded. All we could do was fight a rear guard action, helping the infantry.
We were told of the BELGIANS surrender and the Germans were trying to cut us off. No sleep for 5 days, tired and weary, we did our best.