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Captain Barry, RN., decided that he would like to see how his soldiers lived on land. He arrived in gum-boots; and the presence of our naval commander wading through the mud and spending the night in camp with the 'pongos’ gave great encouragement to all ranks.

On Monday, May 29th, all invasion troops were confined to their camps. Each camp was surrounded by barbed wire, and large numbers of security police effectually stopped all contact with the outside world. At this moment every man was let into the secret of the plan for D Day, with the exception of two facts - where the landing was to take place, and the actual date. All orders were given off maps, which had been specially printed with bogus names, and for further security the coast had been printed on each map as a continuous line, disregarding the Cherbourg peninsula. However, everyone deduced that the landing would be made in France, because we were issued with French money.

The Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower, paid a visit to the Brigade and made a most inspiring and witty speech. During his inspection he spoke to many officers and men, and we all came away imbued with the greatest feeling of confidence and enthusiasm.

All COs of the Assault Divisions attended a lecture by the Commander-in-Chief, General Montgomery, in a cinema in Southampton. There too the same spirit of enthusiasm and supreme confidence reigned, He stressed five points which were vital to the success of the whole operation, and operation which would be unique in history. These five points were:

  1. Close co-operation between all allies.
  2. Offensive eagerness,
  3. Enthusiasm for the task.
  4. Confidence in our leaders and in the plan.
  5. All-out effort by all ranks,

Finally, the closest contact was maintained with MQ of 231 Infantry Brigade, whose one object was to give every assistance to all ranks in these preparations. Led by the Brigade Commander, their encouragement, unfailing help and sympathy were an inspiration which will never be forgotten by those who had the honour to serve in 231 Brigade.

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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Archive: Story of 2nd Battalion the Devonshire Regiment, 1944 Mar - June

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