D-Day: The Unheard Tapes (2024) s01e01 Episode Script

Episode 1

This programme contains scenes which
some viewers may find upsetting.
All I remember about the next thing
is, er, a blinding flash and
..you know, a terrible bloody smell
of cordite and things like that.
And it was all just a mess.
The Germans, anything that was
moving, they were shooting.
The beach was covered in bodies,
and tanks, and smoke.
Everything was brighter in my mind
than it would have been normally.
Get up there!
Boys, keep moving!
And this was it.
Reel one.
Can you tell me about D-Day itself?
Testing, testing, one, two, three.
Testing, testing, one, two, three.
What had they told you
beforehand to expect?
Expect hell.
They didn't lie to us about that.
It was sheer nerves,
but exhilarating nerves,
if you know what I mean?
Your task will not be an easy one.
Your enemy is well trained,
well equipped and battle-hardened.
He will fight savagely.
Mr Kelly, Reel 1.
Can you tell me whereabouts you
were born, please, first of all?
Well, I was born in Liverpool.
Er, in a street called
Doncaster Street.
And what did your father do?
My father was, er, a sail maker.
And so was, er,
the entire family, actually.
When the war came,
what were you doing then?
I think I was about
17 years of age.
The bombing started at the end of,
well, the early 1941.
The corner of the street
was actually
destroyed by an incendiary bomb.
So I signed up
for the Royal Marines.
Because my eldest brother, er,
was already in the marines then.
And he was home on leave,
and he looked absolutely
magnificent in the blue uniform.
Why did you immediately volunteer?
Well, it was a feeling amongst
young men at that time that
..er, something was going to happen
and the Germans were at it again,
and we weren't going to
let them do that.
And pride, I suppose,
and patriotism and,
erthe unknown.
A sense of adventure again,
I suppose.
I told my mother that
I was going to join the marines.
And of course she was upset.
What did your mother say to you
when she found out?
.."Please don't go.
"Wait until your father comes home
and talk it over with him."
In 1944, World War II has been
raging for over four years.
From one side of Europe,
virtually to the other,
is under German control.
This is Nazi territory.
Germany is beginning to
bring the war
increasingly to
Britain's doorstep,
and there's a sense that really
Britain's the only little bit
that's left.
The Allies had been thinking
about how to get back into Europe
ever since the defeat at Dunkirk
in 1940.
The ultimate goal is to
get into Germany,
the end point being
that they'd get to Berlin,
that they can overthrow Hitler
in his own city at
the very centre of the Third Reich.
The Allies contemplated
various different options
for how this could be done,
the best way ultimately
to get to Germany.
And they reasoned the only way to
do that is via northern France,
just across the Channel
from Britain.
But to do this they would need
hundreds of thousands of men
and volunteers
like James Kelly were key.
It must have been four or five
months before I got, er,
the papers came through.
And I'd forgotten all about it.
I put it out of my mind,
I thought, oh, they must have
forgotten, you know, no chance.
One night I arrived home from work,
and my mother was there
and she said
She had this envelope -
On His Majesty's Service.
She said, "What's this?"
So I said, "Oh, no."
She said, "What are you going to
tell your father?"
So I said, "Oh, I'm not sure."
I said, "I'd rather face
the Germans than him!"
Every single soldier
in these resistance nests
was ordered to fight to the last
cartridge and not to surrender.
People like Franz Gockel believed
if the Allies land,
he would have to fight and die.
There was only a slim chance
to survive.
Germany always knew that
the Allies were highly likely
to mount an invasion.
And in anticipation of that,
they created a huge
series of fortifications
all along the north of Europe
that became known
as the Atlantic Wall.
Gun positions, bunkers, etc,
they were all put together with
the single intention of ensuring
that if the Allies were to come,
when the Allies came,
then they would be pushed
straight back into the ocean.
The Germans also started to
fortify the beaches, putting all
sorts of armaments, barbed wire,
huge pieces of equipment that would
basically stop any landing force
from being able to get too far.
The beaches themselves were
also mined.
And above the beaches
there were strongpoints
manned by German troops who were
armed with machine guns.
When you look at the average
German infantry division
in the West, in June 1944,
they normally consist of
40% young recruits,
17 or 18 years old,
with still a solid training
but without any war experience.
Eventually, the Allies identified
five beach landing areas
across Normandy
in Northern France,
where over 100,000 troops
would land on D-Day.
From the west, there were
Utah, Omaha,
Gold, Juno and Sword.
So, Utah and Omaha were identified
as being the American beaches.
Juno was going to be
the Canadian beach
and then Gold and Sword
were Britian's beaches.
It's really important to be
clear about the fact that
nothing of this scale had ever been
attempted in human history.
This is an event without precedent.
The undertaking that was D-Day
was absolutely vast.
It's almost impossible to imagine.
It's an incredible
test of logistics,
to have the right amount
of aircraft, ships, landing craft,
everybody ready at the same moment
when they could launch this attack.
It was going to need
a massive amount of training
for the troops involved,
and a massive amount
of new technology to be refined.
Because, of course,
the means of achieving this
had never been done before.
It's all very well to
talk about secrecy,
to hope that all this is private,
but you would have to have
been blind and deaf, really,
certainly in the south of England,
not to notice that
something was going on.
Every little lane had tanks.
Er, well, the term
"bumper to bumper" could
..if I use that,
yeah, track to track.
They were parked right down
one side of the road,
underneath the overhanging trees,
wherever they could get.
But even so they weren't
you couldn't
camouflage them properly,
and they were there
for everybody to see.
You've got hundreds of thousands
of troops - all of them need to
be trained and prepared.
And these aren't just
troops from Britain either.
They're from Canada and America.
OK, you're Harry NMI Parley?
That's right.
My serial number was 32973006.
I recall that.
When did you go into the army?
I went into the army, er, in 1943.
I got married before.
I knew I was going to be drafted.
You were 23 years old?
American troops had been arriving
in record numbers to Great Britain
since 1943.
In fact, by the end of May 1944,
there were more than 1.5 million
US personnel on British soil.
And they were there to support
or participate in D-Day
and the Battle of Normandy
that was to follow.
My name is Thomas William Porcella.
I was born at New York City
on October 4th 1923.
Men like Tom Porcella were brought
over in huge troop ships,
and they would land in places
like Belfast or Liverpool.
And then they would attend
training camps -
these were mostly
in southern England -
to prepare for the invasion.
I was thinking to myself,
this is it.
Just a matter of time now
and I will be in combat.
I wonder what the hell my folks
are doing back home.
I wonder if they're
thinking about the invasion like
..like we are.
I wonder what they would think
if they knew at this moment,
their son Tom was preparing
himself for this big invasion.
All sorts of thoughts
went through my mind.
I was told that all the new
arrivals were to beef up
the company from about 250 to 300,
that they expected about 30%, um,
casualties in the invasion
and that we were it.
One of the really difficult
things about military planning is
that you have to plan
for a number of
of your own men getting killed.
The strategists and the commanders
knew that they were sending
a percentage
of these young men to their deaths.
Cos that's the only way that
the invasion could have happened.
They just hoped that they'd done
whatever they could
to mitigate the numbers.
We wanted to go,
most of us, anyway, wanted to go.
It was something
that had to be done.
It might sound a bit
..gung ho, for want of a better
phrase, but that's how we felt.
We had to go and do it.
And I don't ever remember talking to
anybody who was frightened,
or feart.
I don't think frightening is
is thethe word for a young man.
Er, it's excitement, really.
If you stand back from it
and watch it,
I suppose that it is frightening.
And, you know, you do get the
this tingle and, er, you know
But I don't think I can honestly
say that I was actually frightened.
As well as a seaborne invasion,
there was another aspect to D-Day
which was absolutely crucial.
And this was the airborne assault.
In the middle of the night
before D-Day,
hours before the troops would
land on the Normandy beaches,
thousands of men would be
dropped behind enemy lines.
And leading one of these units was
Major John Howard.
Well, I'd like to begin
..at the beginningwith you.
Well, I had a very, er,
poor childhood.
My father, when he married
my mother,
who was slightly older than him
..was a baker's roundsman
with a horse and cart in London,
in the, er, Tottenham Court Road
As the eldest of
a very poor family
..um, I had to become
a breadwinner as soon as possible.
So I joined the army.
I was promoted to Major.
John Howard?
Er, he was an officer
slightly different
than the normal officer type,
if you can use that expression.
He was a dedicated man.
He was a fanatic.
He was determined to make
that company, D Company,
not only the best company
in the outfit, in the regiment,
but in the division.
The next, erm, thing I heard was
that the 52nd,
that's the 2nd Battalion,
who'd come home from India,
erm, was going to be airborne
..and there'd be glider troops.
And I was interested in this.
The plan on D-Day was for
some of the airborne troops
to fly in on gliders.
a new concept in warfare,
they were really lightweight
wooden gliders.
They were to be towed across
on D-Day on bombers,
and then they would be released.
Of course, one of the most
useful things about the gliders,
quite apart from the fact they could
put these people all together into
one place at one time, is that
as soon as they've been released,
they were completely silent.
They were a really useful means
of a surprise attack.
What was the appeal?
I suppose there was
a bit of glamour about it, as well.
Everything was a bit hush-hush
as it happened, you know.
In the final weeks before D-Day,
soldiers were moved to sealed camps
where they learnt their missions.
The soldiers inside these camps
were effectively sealed off,
they weren't allowed in or out
of the camp boundaries.
No telephone calls home,
for example.
Any correspondence
would be censored.
Secrecy was paramount.
And I imagine that the
tension started to build
in these sealed camps as well.
There was a sort of fever.
And we knew that there was
definitely something going on.
A rumour started from nowhere.
We had to attack some places,
take some bridges.
My company was lucky to be
selected for what turned out to be
a wonderful operation.
to capture two bridges in Normandy.
John Howard's objective on D-Day
was to secure the Benouville Bridge,
later became known as
Pegasus Bridge.
This bridge was really critical.
It's really close to the
landing beach at Sword.
So securing this bridge should allow
the troops coming in from Sword
and those further
along to come across
and move on towards
their objectives.
If it's not secured, it allows
the Germans to do the opposite
and move tanks
and troops towards them,
and potentially to wreak havoc
upon them on the beach.
This was an incredibly
bold plan by an elite unit
that will become
the start of D-Day.
It's only a few days before D-Day
itself that they're shown
this scale model.
So that when they
stepped off the plane,
the idea was that nothing
would come as a surprise.
We all had to go into a big tent,
and there,
laying on the table, was this thing.
We just looked at it.
There it was.
The bridge, rivers.
We knew there was something
to do with the river,
we knew there was something
to do with the bridge.
There was all sorts of guesses
as to where it could be,
but nobody had a clue.
And even when we were shown it,
and everything else,
we weren't told where it was.
In the briefing, did you give them
a pretty good run-down on not
only the immediate objectives,
but did you also then say,
"Now, the big picture is"?
Oh, yes, everybody had that
quite clear in their mind
and knew where we fit in to
the picture.
The first people to land that night,
and it really did hit them
between the eyes.
The night before D-Day,
over 7,000 boats set off
laden with troops, weapons,
tanks and explosives,
from different points all along
the south coast of Britain.
They would travel through the night
and wait off the French coast,
ready to launch the assault
the next morning.
Well, on the night of the 5th,
we went.
And it's an amazing, amazing sight.
Everywhere you looked, there were
there were ships
of all shapes and sizes.
The sky always seemed to be
full of our planes
with the black and white stripes
on them.
And everything seemed
to stand out in Technicolor.
It seemed to be
..a psychedelic picture.
But it was a lovely feeling
cos it were all ours.
Everything was ours.
And then we went off to Normandy
through the night.
Everything seemed to be
What's the word I'm looking for?
Exaggerated, yes.
Everything in colour, Technicolor.
We went aboard these,
erm, Landing Craft Infantry.
They were very, very cramped.
And you, you know,
you have memories of, er,
of just things that may
happen to you, you know, and, er
And what I associate with those
craft were self-heating soup.
I know it sounds outlandish,
but, er, self-heating soup
because that was the only way
we were going to get a hot meal.
That's what I remember about
the Land Craft,
self-heating soup
and a desire to be sick.
It was a terrible rough crossing.
From the Allies' perspective,
D-Day was a massive gamble.
Because if those men were
to be lost,
and that equipment was to be
then how do you start again?
But not only that,
they would then know that
the Germans knew
what their plan was.
So they would have to
completely reconceive
how any sort of future invasion
could have worked.
The stakes are extraordinarily high,
and it's really impossible
to overstate that point.
You must have been apprehensive
about, erm, the possibility
of being killed or maimed?
No. Erm, as a matter of fact,
looking back to the fellas
I spoke to, when we did,
they were so keen
but at the same time
so ignorant of true warfare.
This is one of the things that keeps
a man going in battle.
He can always imagine
his mate being killed.
He can always imagine himself
get the nice tidy wound
across the head or through
the leg or the shoulder.
But the thing that keeps most men
going in battle is,
despite seeing men die
left, right and centre,
they always seem to get this idea
that it's not going to be them.
The risks with the gliders
were incredibly high
because they had no engines.
When they were released,
the pilots had really limited means
of controlling what was happening.
And what they were essentially doing
was kind of a controlled
crash landing.
If they were to hit anything
solid or miss their original
landing point, there was nothing
that the pilot could do
but accept what was to come.
Up at the airfield, everybody
went to their gliders to check
the equipment was all tied
all right.
Before that glider went off,
I managed to get
a large piece of chalk.
I put "Lady Irene"
right along the side of it.
Lady what? Lady Irene.
It's my wife's name.
I put "Lady Irene" in great big
white letters all along the side.
And I kept that bit of chalk and
wouldn't let anybody else have it.
Nobody else was going to scrawl
on it.
That was Lady Irene.
And then Jack Bailey,
my old mate down there,
he's still down there with me, he
said, "Lend us that bit of chalk."
We come from the same area,
I said, "I'll let you have it, Jack,
and I want it back."
He put "Lewisham Special"
on the other side.
Lewisham Special? Lewisham.
The borough we live in,
south London.
My clearest memory was
a somewhat sad one, of going round
and giving farewell.
It really was a tough time
going round with a
..a lump in your throat.
I got back to my glider
and we shut the doors
..and right on the dot of 22.56
I was airborne.
As soon as we, er,
got up to 5 or 6,000 feet,
er, the men started loosening
their tongues and
..and a lot of singing went on.
We sang everything. Everything
we could lay our tongues to.
Simple as that.
It was sheer nerves. Yeah?
But exhilarating nerves,
if you know what I mean?
Yeah? Absolutely.
Going through my mind,
apart from the plan and what
was going meet us the other end.
I mean, one couldn't help
thinking of your family.
Den Brotheridge, who was the platoon
commander I was closest with,
he was the oldest officer
next to me.
Most of his platoon were cockneys,
and I was a Londoner myself,
and felt very much at home
with cockneys.
My wife, Joy, and Margaret,
Den's wife, were pregnant together,
and we discussed it quite often,
Den and I.
And he, er,
was obviously very worried
because the date that Margaret's
child was due
was a fortnight after D-Day.
I think I heard Johnnie Howard
shout out something about,
"We're over the coast."
Or words to that effect.
Now, you begin to get
a little bit
You're now over occupied Europe.
There's no way back.
The next thing, we cast off.
The singing stopped.
When we levelled out
a bit at 1,000 feet,
we opened the doors of the gliders.
Now I could look forward
at the fields of France,
and it had an amazing
tranquillising effect on me.
And, er, it was so quiet,
it was like being
on an exercise in England.
The glider suddenly did
a right-hand turn.
And we came to, er
..what we knew was going to be
the toughest moment of the lot -
the crash land.
I could see the glider pilot
holding that bloody great machine
and driving it in
at the last minute.
Those damn great footballs
of sweat across his forehead
and all over his face.
Then I heard something bang.
More bang.
Through the top of the trees.
And then there was the most
rounding splash imaginable.
Wasn't prepared for that bump
and everything going all quiet.
You looked around. Blimey!
And for a moment,
there wasn't a sound.
I felt, erm, my head had been
knocked rather badly.
The first thing I saw
was that the door had disappeared.
It had completely telescoped.
I could hear the glider
pilots on my right,
moaning, in their cockpit,
which seemed to have been smashed.
Erm, but I was conscious that
everybody in the glider was moving.
You could hear the click of the
safety belts and, er, being undone.
And I knew that men were
getting out of the glider
and people were pushing in front of
me to get through the broken door.
As I stood there, I could see
the tower of the bridge
about 50 yards
from where I was standing.
I suppose that really was the most
exhilarating moment of my life.
I saw the smoke bomb explode,
phosphorus bomb.
I heard the thud, thud, thud in the
pillbox as the grenades exploded.
And I knew we would get no more
trouble from there.
And the leading platoon
ran across the bridge.
We were supposed to meet up
with Den Brotheridge.
"Where's Den?" He said, "I don't
know," he said, "I haven't seen him.
"I haven't seen anything.
Only as far as here."
I started to run to go around the
back end where he should have been.
I ran past a bloke
lying on the floor, in the road.
Looked at him.
Went to run on. And I stopped dead.
I said, "Hang on."
Turned back, knelt down,
looked at him,
it was Den Brotheridge.
I just knelt down beside him.
His eyes were open
and his lips were moving.
Just looked at him.
I put my hand under his head to
lift him up,
took my hand away and
..got him right at the back,
round here, hand was covered in it.
I just looked at him then
and I just see him go like that
a couple of times.
His eyes sort of lolled back,
just choked and lay back.
I just looked at him,
right in the middle of it,
I looked at him and thought, my God!
I don't want to say
Do you know what? It
I don't know
if it was the bloke himself
or all the years of training
he'd put in to do a job,
it only lasted 20 seconds,
30 seconds.
The first news I got from
Den's platoon
was the fact that he'd been, er
And that really shook me.
And I could see it was fatal.
And, erm, the fact that
I knew that Margaret, his wife,
was expecting a baby
almost any time.
In the event,
it arrived a fortnight later
..er, was the top of my mind
as I saw Den carried past on that
..erm, stretcher.
A very sad moment for myself
..and for everybody concerned.
John Howard and his airborne troops
had managed to capture Benouville
Bridge in less than 20 minutes.
But now the airborne
had to keep hold of it
whilst they waited for the troops
to arrive from Sword Beach.
That was going to be a long night.
And in those early hours of D-Day,
it wasn't just
the British airborne troops
who were landing
behind enemy lines.
All of a sudden we heard,
"Are you ready?"
All the troopers shouted
all at once, "Yeah. Let's go!"
The Americans dropped six parachute
regiments behind enemy lines
on the morning of the D-Day
invasion. About 13,000 men.
As the 'chute popped open, my head
snapped forward and my feet came up.
My helmet was pushed
slightly over my face.
The jolt of the opening of
the 'chute soon made everything
a reality.
I looked up at my 'chute
to make sure it was OK,
then looked down and I couldn't see
anything but blackness.
Tom Porcella's regiment's mission
was to secure two bridges
beyond Utah Beach.
One thing that the Germans
had done was flood fields
in order to turn them into quagmires
to slow the Allied advance down.
Of course, the paratroopers
dropped into these soaked fields
and found themselves, in some cases,
shoulder or neck deep in cold,
freezing water and weighed
down by their own equipment.
Many of them drowned.
I had the shock of my life.
I plunged into water.
My heart was pounding
and my thoughts were running
a mile a minute.
How deep is this water?
Can I get free of my 'chute?
Am I too heavy? Will the weight
keep me on the bottom?
All the training I had received had
not prepared me for such a landing.
My eyes strained to see
the landmarks,
but I could see
nothing in the darkness.
I was cold and I began to shiver.
We realised that time was
running out,
that if we were going to do
anything, we'd better do it fast.
So we moved as fast as we could.
We knew it was very important that
we leave the water before daylight.
In the past weeks, German soldiers
had been put on alert
again and again.
Many of them had become complacent.
And even in the night,
from the 5th to the 6th June,
when the first information went in
that there was
a Allied parachute drop,
the Germans did not fully believe
that this is the big invasion.
The Allies were attacking German
defences right across Normandy,
and one of their targets
was the Merville Battery,
a battery commanded
by Raimund Steiner.
The Merville Battery was
a collection of guns
within reach of Sword Beach.
The battery was stormed by
British glider-borne infantry.
But at the time, Raimund was
a mile away at an observation post
and therefore he could only hear
what was happening.
The Allies had now started
the next phase of the operation.
And this was pounding
the German coastal defences
with a massive aerial bombardment.
So the plan for D-Day was
that before the landing troops
got to the beaches,
the Atlantic Wall in Normandy
would be absolutely bombarded.
What they knew is that it
would have dreadful consequences
for French civilians.
France had been occupied
by the Nazis for almost
four years at that point,
to the day.
People on those shores
and a little bit inland,
they didn't see the landings.
They heard the landings.
They didn't know what it was. It was
like thesethese rumblings.
You know, they said a thunder,
erm, is it some bombardment?
I mean, there had been bombardment
throughout 1944
so it wasn't completely unfamiliar.
But there was something
much more intense about it.
And as daylight starts to come,
then they see
that this is probably the landings,
that something is happening,
and all they're thinking is,
"Let them land elsewhere.
"Let them not land where we are."
Because that's the most dangerous.
Andre Heintz was quite
a typical resistor.
He was a young man.
His whole generation
during the occupation
was targeted by the forced labour
service imposed by the Germans
which involved young men his age
going to Germany to work for
..for the German military cause,
and he was infuriated.
He had been seeing
the grip of the Germans,
of the occupation,
on France for years now.
He had been waiting for this day
for a long time.
But he couldn't have known
what this would really be like
and how damaging it would be
for the French people.
While the Allied air forces
are pounding the Atlantic Wall,
the American troop ships
are anchored
several miles off the French coast.
These troop ships would contain
the main body of the landing forces
to hit the Normandy beaches.
I was down in the bowels
of the ship.
There were thousands
of guys on this ship.
And something about a ship
that stinks.
Yeah? The-the-the smell of
The smell of the kitchen is there,
the grease and the smell
of the coffee and, er
It was very uncomfortable,
very, very crowded.
We talked about, er, life and,
..how we expected to take it
if we were wounded
and what would happen to us.
We had breakfast about 4.30am,
and the planes bombed the beach
and the warships shelled it.
We got in Higgins boats, on deck,
so we didn't have to climb down
rope ladders like some other boats.
The American army used
Higgins boats to carry
platoons of soldiers
from ship to shore.
These boats were lowered
from the troop ships,
but many of the soldiers of course
would have to scramble down
netting to get into them.
The boats were rising five to
six feet in the air
as they were waiting to
take you down.
The nets would drop into the boat
and with all this equipment,
these guys climbed down.
The first wave for all the beaches
were to get into the Channel
and then there was a certain amount
of time where they had to actually
circle, while all the boats were
lowered and loaded, until the entire
first wave was ready and in line.
Everybody got sick
..except me.
As the boats approached the beaches,
the Allies launched
a massive naval bombardment.
So that by the time the landing
forces stepped of their boats,
then the guns that would have been
firing at them had been destroyed.
A Feuerwalze is a rolling barrage.
So this means the artillery fire
is approaching you closer
and closer and closer,
and then going over you and then
just like aa steam roller
of fire from the beaches
further into the hinterland.
It's not only that it is a
terrifying sight, it's a huge noise.
You hear people screaming.
You might see, er, some
of your colleagues dying, perishing,
bodies ripped apart.
So, erm, yeah, it is
Psychologically, this is
one of the most terrifying things
soldiers probably
can ever experience.
Those naval, erm, bombardments
on top of the RAF
was absolutely terrific.
And it's something
everybody well remembered.
And then we thought
of those poor devils
coming in by sea
in those landing launches.
And, er, we were damn glad that we
were where we were, relatively safe.
Erm, and we certainly wouldn't
have wanted to be
anywhere near the coast.
On D-Day, lots of things went
really, really well
and a few of them didn't,
particularly the naval bombardment
and airborne bombardment
that preceded the invasion.
Poor visibility and lack of time
meant that many German
defences weren't knocked out.
And French civilians
living near the targets
found themselves
caught up in the chaos.
All this time, they were, they were
shelling the beaches Yeah.
..and they were bombing them,
the beaches.
And the roar of the guns
and the roar of the diesels
and the throbbing
of the big ship itself,
you had to shout just to be
heard by the guy next to you.
I had a very gentle lieutenant
in charge of my platoon.
He asked me what
I thought about dying.
He seemed very sad.
I expected him to take me
in his arms but nothing happened.
For German defenders
like Franz Gockel,
the sight of the approaching armada
must have just been terrifying.
But despite the fact that the Allies
had pounded the beaches
in advance of the landings,
many of the bunkers
remained intact.
The German defenders were in place
to rain fire down on the beaches.
On the way in, it was rough.
As we got near the shore,
while going in, we've seen
the rocket ships firing away
the rockets.
We couldn't see much cos we were
supposed to keep our heads down,
and you couldn't hear anything.
The diesel motors on the boats
always reminded me of a bus
back home.
By this time, it was light.
Boats were getting hit.
As we got closer,
they were starting to fire.
Incoming enemy fire was
starting to come out toward us.
I could smell the smoke
and I can hear yelling
and carrying on and those guys.
And every once in a while,
a guy would look up over the side
and say, "Oh, shit!"
then duck down again.
So I knew it wasn't good news.
We didn't know where we were.
We didn't know what to do.
The ramp went down
..and, er
..your asshole puckered up,
you took a deep breath,
and you started to pray.
When we got there,
it was just a shambles.
My friend was down on the deck.
We got on the beach,
which was covered in bodies.
There were tanks coming off
and trucks coming off and sinking.
And then you just turned away,
you couldn't look.
The Open University
has produced a free booklet
highlighting key moments of D-Day.
To order your free copy marking
the 80th anniversary, call
Or go to
..and follow the links
to The Open University.
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