Read this introduction to Bob Littlar's story, then listen to him describe his experiences, using the links at the foot of this page.
Bob Littlar was 19 on D-Day, and a corporal in the Second Battallion of the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. He had volunteered the previous year, and the invasion of France was the first active mission he took part in.
Before the invasion, he went through intensive training in Scotland. On D-Day, his regiment's objective was to reach the strategic city of Caen. On the road to Caen, Littlar and his comrades had to dig into the ground to hide from the German panzer divisions that were being assembled to prevent Allied troops from taking the city. Contrary to the expectations of the Allies, Caen didn't fall until after a month of heavy fighting.
Later in 1945 Littlar's regiment was sent to Germany and, after World War Two, ended to Palestine. Two years afterwards he left the Army.
You know, he got out and he walked along the lines reviewing us, like all these dignitaries do. You know - 'Gather round and I'll give you a talk'.
Same sort of trick as old Monty used to do ... gather round, get on the bonnet of a jeep, and tell you all about it perhaps. And it was very nice to get him for the day, and ... that was it. I mean, when he said how good we were, we could go home.
You know, the way he put it, you knew you were part of a group job. You know, and he told us that, I mean, you're not the only chaps, you've got aeroplanes and ... naval power and all that sort of stuff, to do this job.
He put it over very well. Very moral boosting I thought. One of the better speeches.
One of the later ... we were getting leave practically every other weekend at this time - make the most of it, chaps, you know. It's obviously got to be done during the summer, sort of thing, while the weather's suitable.
That was percolating down to us, we knew that. And I went home with my dad, and he was getting his bit of petrol, he took me to top of one of the hills in Herefordshire where you could see a panorama. It was brilliant. Well you've got it here was brilliant ... and he said, 'Well, this is what it's all about'.
'See all the Jerries', he said, 'and we don't want them here do we?' 'Cos he'd been in the 14-18 war, got gassed in it. He said, 'This is why we're trying to do this ... and it's worth, it's worth it, isn't it, when you see this?'
And I agreed of course, I was about 19 and a bit then, 19 and a quarter I suppose then. I thought on the same lines. There were no argument about it, and being in the wonderful countryside in Herefordshire, it is a moral booster. It is what it's all about. It is what you want forever, rather than a jackboot stamping on you, I think.
Yes, you couldn't do anything else but agree.
I came round the corner and, bang! And a chap from W Company was hit. Not only hit, he's either been hit with a tracer or an incendiary bullet, or a phosphorus bullet, and the whole of his bandolier - he's got two bandoliers, which is sort of 50 rounds in each bandolier, strapped round his waist, so if he had to get rid of his pack, or his assault jerkin, and he's still got the ammunition, you see, whhaaww. And that's how he died.
And I thought, and I was on my own on the left-hand side the river, so the rest of the chaps went behind me. And I turned, and I thought the fire had come from the farm on my left. So I opened up with a Sten, about a magazine and a half - took all the windows out.
But of course they don't fire, they fire from ground level. You only learn these things ... it's teaching on the job you could call it.
And the company commander from this chap on the right came up, and he got his grenade in his hand, and I saw he was hit immediately, the same second ... within two or three seconds he was hit, in the shoulder. And I saw him change the grenade from one hand to the other and chuck it over the wall. He thought it came from there, but I think it actually came from the church further up.
It was a baptism wasn't it? I mean, it was all new.
I mean, the muscles in your stomach are tight like a fist, like that, you know, your stomach muscles. But you can't stop.
You know you've gotta a job to, well, it isn't like ...that you know you've got a job to do, but your operation, you still keep going, you know, I mean. You can say that for the rest of any, anytime, you're glad to be there next morning, always.
I can't say about the injured or killed, quite honestly, you're concentrating on your own well being, if that's a word I can use. Your mind concentrates on your own position.
Basically, 'I don't like this much' was going through my mind, and 'we shouldn't be here', because it's not going to do any good. I mean, that's how you feel ... you're in a trap, with that type of fire coming at you. And I was very relieved when we were ordered back across the road, out of it.
Yeah, we were trapped, I should imagine, in that wood like that. That's all I can think, because I couldn't see any way that we were going to go forward from there. 'What's the point of being there' is at the back of your mind, because you're just going to get hurt. There probably were casualties, but really, as I say, you're concentrating on your own ... you always do ... on your own situation.
That's the first priority in the whole of your existence, I think, and, as I say, I was hiding behind the trunks of these saplings and it was no, no help. I have to say it didn't help, I mean, everything burst in the trees and it wasn't any help to you at all. No I didn't like it a bit there.
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