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'D' Day

At 1030 hours on the morning of 31st May the battalion assault group, complete with all representatives of the supporting arms, fell in for the last time at Pennely Camp. The move in MT from the camp to Southampton went without a hitch. We were driven straight to the quay alongside which H.M.S. GLENROY was lying ready to receive us.' Tea was served to all ranks in the shed while the adjutant handed the many forms and detailed lists to the Embarkation Staff. Embarkation was completed in record time; each serial was received on board by our AMLO, and by the ship's Master at Arms; a Royal Marine acted as guide who not only led the serial to their correct deck, but also showed each commander the quickest way to the LCA allotted to him, The efficiency with which the troops were received and stowed on board demonstrated the value of the close liaison which had been established with the officers and ratings of the GLENROY.

As the CO was about to go on board he was met by the Brigade Commander who said "I have got here photos which will delight your eyes. The RAF are apologetic about them, saying that of course it is only their first bombing of the place; they hope to do much better later! ". He then produced two photographs of the Longues battery, showing the results of the first precision bombing which had taken place on the 29th. We could hardly believe our eyes, The whole area looked a mass of craters. The photographs were passed rapidly round the ship and the atmosphere was "Well, if the RAF bomb every enemy position like that, the whole party will be a complete picnic", We no longer felt so anxious about Longues.

The next three days were spent in learning our roles by heart, studying maps, and discussing all the possibilities and alternatives, until we felt that we were ready, On June 3rd we learnt that D Day would be June 5th, subject of course to the weather. We were told also that it could be postponed two days; but if a landing was not possible by the 7th, then it would have to be postponed a fortnight, during which time all troops would return to the barbed wire camps ashore. This was indeed a thought too appalling to contemplate.

On the evening of the 3rd, a concert took place on the afterdeck, organized by Paymaster Commander Hutchinson, who was the life and soul of the party. Excellent talent was shown by those who took part, the highlight being a demonstration of Yogi-ism by our "Performing FOO" Captain George Cully. At the conclusion of the concert, the Co who was incidentally OC ship, presented Captain Barry with a plaque on which had been placed the badges of all units represented on board, with the following inscription:-

D DAY........... 1944

(Archive transcripts © Copyright Normandy War Guide)

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

Page: Page 9