Whilst clearing out our attic we found this account written by my step-dad of his involvement with the D-Day Landings – I think on the 75th anniversary of Operation Overlord it is a good time to share it.
George William Bishop : my account of what happened to me on D-Day and coming up to Normandy.
First of all we were stationed up in Nightingale Woods next to the golf course at the end of Shirley Road. We were preparing and getting the vehicles ready for the big day. We left when almost ready for our destination in Southampton on June 1st to go to the docks to board the landing crafts.
They took us down that night into Netley Hospital at dusk. That was the last building I recognised when we left before going down the Solent.
We stayed near the ??? Line near to Beaulieu for 5 days. It was very rough weather and most of us were sick.
On the night of the 5th June we left to go to Normandy, across the Channel arriving in the very early hours of the 6th June. But did not go on to the beach until our own battle ships behind us had finished firing over our heads at the bunkers to silence the big guns on the shore.
When it came to our turn we started to approach the shore but the sea was so rough that our raft had a job to get in for us to disembark.
The name of the beach we landed on was called ‘Gold’. The American seamen were in charge of our craft and looked after us very well. I was in Durham Light Infantry, 50 Div. We managed to get ashore after a while, our party was an advance party that day. We managed to get up in between the barbed wire barricades. Quite a bit of fire was going over our heads. We managed to get past the tall building that stood on its own above and to the right. We managed to get inland and took to the cornfields to keep away from the minefields as nearly all the roads were mined.
We ran into quite a bit of fire along the way. We went about 12-14 miles that first day, it was a very long day. I shall never forget it as long as I live. We certainly put up with a lot.
Anyway, carrying on from there, the other side of Caen, there was heavy fighting. One big orchard we were in, our tanks were back to back facing outwards firing at the Germans who were coming towards us in their tanks and on foot by their hundreds. Two of us were firing the 3 inch mortars at the enemy at the same time, for a long, long time, non-stop. It was a real battle going on
They were actually filming the battle from our own tanks. After the war they showed this film of D-Day in the cinema. This was the last time this film would be shown as it was put in a capsule and buried in the ground for the future, to let people know what happened. Actually I am on this film, I saw myself on the film firing the mortar at the Germans.
We did stop the Germans and drove them back, those that were left as a lot were killed that day.
A week after that I had a ??? of mortar so I was sent back to England so that was the last action I was in. I was 21 then. I am 71 years of age now and struck down with Parkinsons Disease and angina – this is a battle I can’t win but I try to put a brave face on it.