1st of June, tired and weary, I arrived on the beach at 3 o'clock in the
afternoon. Straining my eyes I saw what looked like black lines stretching out
to sea. I became aware that they were men wading out to small boats, and what
looked like logs rolling on the edge of the water were dead bodies.
Within minutes of arriving on the beach I had to dive for cover as dive-bomber s came in low spraying the beach with machine guns and dropping their bombs.
For the next 12 hours the sand dunes became our haven. All that afternoon, as we made our way to the Mole (this was a jetty 5 miles away). We were bombed, machine gunned or shelled. Our fingers would claw at the sand and arch our backs expecting bullets to rip into them. Then, a dull moment as we lifted our heads, a scream over on the right and a moan somewhere ahead as we saw the first aid man comforting those who had been hit.
It was still light by the time I arrived at the Mole to find the jetty had just about been blown to bits. Stretchers had been put over the gaps, oil tanks were on fire, and HMS Jaguar was just going out astern when we managed to climb aboard.
A mile out to sea the bombers dived out of the sky. On deck we clung to anything as the ship heeled from side to side. As she was hit men were blown over the side. Next to me a chap called Harris, he was shouting "my legs" as he slid past me, I saw a lump of shrapnel sticking out of his back. Next thing I was in the water, kicking off my boots and webbing, I started to swim back to shore.
Another night was spent on the beach and next day I got away from DUNKIRK on a hospital ship.
June 2nd I landed at SOUTHAMPTON then sent to a place in SHIRLEY. After all details had been collected I was sent home to await orders.
After the regiment assembled we were given small armoured cars. Our job was to catch enemy pilots during the battle of BRITAIN.
Then we moved to TOWCESTER. Some men left to go to the Far East. New and younger men joined us from training camps. Our next move was to SKIPTON and here we trained with SHERMAN TANKS. Unfortunately we were not too successful on the moors, and during our training whispers of letters like DD, which was some 'form of tank' were heard.
We moved to FRITTON near YARMOUTH, here we signed the Secret Act and saw, for the first time, a D.D Sherman tank. A normal 30-ton tank, but one could see, running all around the deck, was a canvas screen neatly folded, at the after end were 2 propellers attached to the tank's hull. These could be raised or lowered, moved left or right by the driver, once the tank was in water and the canvas screen had been inflated by air from air bottles.
The movement and the change of engine noise and the landing craft moving faster and further out of the side of the invasion fleet brought me back to reality - I knew we were going to take up position well ahead of the fleet.
Our job that lay ahead was to be launched two and half miles off shore, the D.D tanks to swim ashore - to take and hold the beach until the invasion fleet arrived, then support the Suffolk regiment.
August 1942 a reconnaissance force carried out a raid on DIEPPE to test coastal defences and to try out the technique for landing tank assault force over open beaches.
This was achieved at the cost of human lives. Out of 5000 there was 3500 casualties!