|Title||4/7 Dragoon Guards: extract from "The First and the Last," 1944 May, June|
|Description||Extract from "The First and the Last," telling the story of the 4th/7th Dragoon Guards in the invasion of Normandy.|
- 5 -
The morning of D Day dawned cold and grey, with what appeared to be a slightly lesser sea. It still Looked rough enough, however, to make it questionable whether it would be possible for the DD Tanks to launch as planned.
Everyone was up and about early, with the need for cooking and eating a breakfast, and stowing everything away before landing time arrived. Seasickness feelings were forgotten in the excitement of seeing the tremendousness of everything that was going on around us. All types of warships were visible, and it was a wonderful sight to see this terrific armada ploughing its way steadily South, completely unhindered by the enemy, while overhead wave after wave of aircraft passed on the way to their targets.
Order of Battle of 50th
69th Infantry Brigade
5th East Yorkshire Regiment
6th Green Howards
7th Green Howards
151st Infantry Brigade
6th Durham Light Infantry
8th Durham Light Infantry
9th Durham Light Infantry
231st Infantry Brigade
2nd Devonshire Regiment
1st Hampshire Regiment
1st Dorsetshire Regiment
56th Infantry Brigade
2nd Essex Regiment
2nd Gloucestershire Regiment
2nd South Wales Borderers
We knew now that our landing place was the beach to the West of the small village of Le Riviere, half-way between Caen and Arromanches. The Brigade was under command of the 50th Northumbrian Division and the Regiment was in support of the 69th Infantry Brigade - "C" Squadron on the left with the 5th East Yorkshire Regiment and "B" Squadron on the right with the 6th Green Howards; "A" Squadron following up with the 7th Green Howards. The intention of the Regiment as to support the 69th Brigade on to the St. Leger feature.
The supporting bombardment was due to begin at six o'clock and from this time onwards the air was never free of the flash and rumble of naval guns, or the roar of bombers overhead going in to their target. The fire support programme for the assault was prodigious. Any defence position which was capable of upsetting the landing in any way was subjected to a concentration of overwhelming power. It was the intention to saturate all such targets, so that however extravagant the means, the result was that they could not expect to live. An example of this was the built-in battery of four guns on our own front; the cruiser Belfast was allotted the sole job of destroying this one target, and, judging by a glimpse caught of them some weeks later, accomplished this mission very thoroughly.
There seems to be no official verdict on which armour was actually first ashore, so there are several diamants, ourselves included. It can, how ever, only have been a matter of minutes between all the beaches. The Regiment was certainly part of the leading wave of the whole Invasion.
H Hour signified the hour at which the assault infantry were to touch down on shore, and this had been set for 7.25 a.m. The DD Tanks were due in at H minus 5 minutes (i.e. 7.20). The Naval Commander had in fact decided that it was too rough to launch DD Tanks, so their craft brought them in to do a deep wade, with the assistance of their screens.
The clearing of the under-water beach defences had been undertaken by the "Frogmen" - those brave individuals who swam about all by themselves before the rest of the Army arrived, blowing up and destroying the things which might ruin the landing. The results had been pretty satisfactory. There were still various pieces of metal protruding from the sea, but there were gaps between them, and the only trouble
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)