I landed on Sword Beach whilst a member of the 5th Battalion, The Kings Regiment. The foregoing is my account of my experiences on that day. I might add that I returned to my Battalion later,and took part in operations including the Rhine crossing and the advance across Germany to the Baltic at Travemunde (via Luebeck) and then on to Copenhagen via Flensburg and Kolding. My story starts here:
ONE KINGSMAN'S D-DAY
My very short introduction to the liberation of North West Europe, during World War 2, took place when I landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944 (also known as D-Day) as a 19 year old infantry soldier, at an early stage of the assault. I was there for less than an hour, most of which was spent lying on the beach, awaiting evacuation, having been wounded as my landing craft took a direct hit, just as we were about to disembark. Perusal of the extreme left of the photograph, featured on page 22 of Time magazine's 'Special Report: D-Day' dated 6 June 1994, will reveal a bare-headed soldier being helped ashore by a corporal. That soldier is me.
Although the photo does not, of course, show it,the beach was under very heavy shelling, as evidenced by the number of men lying on the sand, either taking cover, dead or wounded. The wounded were given rudimentary medical attention and subsequently carried on stretchers to "empty" tank landing craft, which were returning to Portsmouth. Now, at that time, members of the Royal Navy, when at sea, were given a daily rum ration, universally referred to as "the tot". It had to be consumed as soon as it was issued. Saving it for later consumption was not allowed. The sailors on "our" tank landing craft-possibly a dozen or so-had, however, been illegally stocking up for a forthcoming 21st birthday of one of the crew. I mention this because, towards the end of our slow voyage to Portsmouth, the wounded on board began to suffer, as the effects of the drugs which we had received on the beach wore off.
To their eternal credit,the " matelots" broke out their illegal rum stocks to help alleviate our pain. "Better love than this hath no man,that he gives up his tot for a friend". Not surprisingly, I have only a vague memory of being taken ashore at Portsmouth and my subsquent admission to Haslar Naval Hospital there. A couple of days later, a nursing sister told me of our slightly inebriated state on admission, during which one of our number (not me) had made repeated attempts to kiss the nurses!