|Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr
|Extracts from Second Army History, 1944 Apr.
As the leading ships of the great invasion armada swept across the CHANNEL they experienced no enemy interference. Yet the voyage was by no means uneventful and a number of craft, particularly LCM, was forced to turn back owing to the rough weather. In the grey dawn of 6 Jun the LSI of assault groups have-to in their lowering positions. Quickly, efficiently, the troops - their faces grim with determination - took their places in the LCA. "Lower array" - and those smaller craft were launched into heavy seas which broke over them as the; churned their way towards the beaches.
As they neared the shore the landing ramps in the bows were held half open in readiness. Then, as the keels grounded, down went the ramps and the troops leaped out to charge through eighteen inches of water and storm the beaches. The Second Front had begun.
Tribute to the qualities of the men of all three Services who took part in the invasion has been paid by Rear Admiral Sir Philip VIAN, in his official report, in which he write:-
"Conditions of wind and sea on the day of sailing were, in my appreciation, unexpectedly severe for the launching of an operation of this type and imposed a high test on the landing craft crews. "It may probably be that the weather conditions had some part in what must ever be a matter for wonder - that the embarkation, sailing; and passage of the Force by day should have been carried through without so great a movement being; detected . . . . That this should have been achieved is a lasting tribute to the admirable work of the Allied Air Force and the excellence of the cover plan."
Rear Admiral VIAN also explains that the weather conditions were on the border-line for the swimming DD tanks. In all the assaults these arrived after the first landing craft had touched down.
The leading groups of Forces S and G touched down at the time planned, but the landing of‘ each brigade under Force J was delayed ten minutes by signal. This was occasioned by the late arrival of LCT (AVRE). The leading LCA of Group J.I, in fact, touched down about twenty minutes later than planned.
The operation by 6 Airborne Division took place with little inter- ference from the enemy apart from flak from CAEN. A "coup sw main" party to seize the bridges over the CANAL DE CAEN and the R ORNE was dropped near BENOUVILLE at 0020 hrs on 6 Jun: - of the six gliders used, four landed with extreme accuracy. The surprise gained was complete and both bridges were captured.
5 Parachute Brigade dropped at 0050 hrs to reinforce the position at the bridges. This parachute drop was not as concentrated as might have been expected. 3 Parachute Brigade dropped at the same time. The brigade was scattered over a wide area, but in spite of this difficulty, the initial objective, the coastal battery at 155776, was overrun. The bridges over the R DIVES and its tributaries at VARRAVILLE 1875 and East of TROARN 1667 were successfully blown, but not before considerable opposition had been overcome. One repercussion of this unintentional scattering of troops was that the enemy was misled as to the area and extent of the airborne landings.
(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)