|4/7 Dragoon Guards: extract from "The First and the Last," 1944 May, June
|Extract from "The First and the Last," telling the story of the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in the invasion of Normandy.
The last exercise we did caused many people a few anxious moments, for we were not at all sure that it was not the real thing. By the end of May everybody, soldiers, civilians and Germans knew that the invasion was on. The papers said so, the Germans said so, and the soldiers wondered why they had to keep it so secret.
"B" and "C" Squadrons had for some time been a part of the Regiment in name alone. The nature of their training was such that they were always apart from the rest of the Regiment and became almost an independent body. At the end of May they were already in the wooded camp from which they were to embark for the final voyage.
254 Corps Delivery Squadron
265 Forward Delivery Squadron
D Day vehicles to Hursley Park,
6 miles East of Romsey
D + 2 to D + 6 to Toothill Camp,
The remainder of the Regiment now began to split up. Transport that was not required in the first few days of the assault moved to Larkhill. Next day the first-line reinforcements went off to the two Delivery Squadrons and then the rest moved into two camps near Southampton.
These were two of a number of similar camps which has been built all along the invasion coast. Formerly the park of a big country house and a stretch of common, they were now a mass of Nissen huts and parking bays where thousands of men and vehicles could go through the last stages us preparation and organisation in comparative comfort, and with security.
The first few days were spent in putting the finishing touches to the vehicles, maintaining them after the move to the camp, sunbathing and taking a little exercise. There was no last minute rushing, or wild panic. For once - a rare thing in the history of this Army, which is credited with always muddling through and winning the last battle - for once we were absolutely fit and trained and ready. Our equipment was complete, and it was the best that the country could offer. All the final checks and inspections had been carried out, all our training was completed, and everybody not only knew his job, but was an expert at it.
We only needed two things now; to receive our orders for the battle itself. and to gain that extra polish of experience that training can never produce, and only battle can give.
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)