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15 October 2014
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Royal Ulster Rifles at Sword Beach & Cams Wood

by CSV Media NI

Contributed by 
CSV Media NI
People in story: 
William Moore
Location of story: 
SwordBeach & Cams Wood, Normandy
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 September 2005

Royal Ulster Rifles War Memorial at Belfast City Hall

This story is taken from an interview with William Moore, and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions. The interview and transcription was by Bruce Logan.

I went to a Young Soldiers' Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles. We went to Essex, and we were disbanded. Some went to the London Irish, and I went to a place called Hoik in Scotland. We did training up in a place named Inverairy, way up in the hills, off the beaches where the boats, the landing barges were.
We went up to a place called Dartmount up in England, where we were under tents waiting for the invasion. A place called Droxford near Southampton. We were there for about 3 weeks, and we weren't allowed out for nothing. And we got visits from the Queen - she was Queen then - and all, General Montgomery and all their dignitaries.
And then going up round Portsmouth and all for the Invasion.

We were there 3 weeks, nearly a month. In the camp, waiting for the invasion. Then we went on the ships at the ports, and round and round for the 3 nights.
It was rough. I can tell you, it was rough.

We went around the coast of France 2-3 times, because it was too rough, and went in the third time. And we had bicycles with us then, at that time, equipment. So the bicycles was thrown over, because the sea was too rough.

[we landed on] Sword Beach.

So we made our way in. But some of the boys, you didn't see them, because some of them just drowned.
And then we we were meant to take Cams, supposed to keep it till ... So we went into Cams, and we lost 182 men, and we lost 3 officers in my own company. We lost 182 men in Cams wood by crossfire and sniper and tanks. I'd just say there was a few hundred in a battalion.
I lost a lot of mates and friends.
Bogged down, couldn't move for crossfire. You got up sometimes out of your slit trench for a smoke, and whatever you were ... and you heard something coming, the bomb comb. If you were quick enough you got in, and if you weren't quick enough ... that's how I lost one of my friends. We were up having a wee chat up on the top of the slit trench, and we heard something coming over. We jumped, but he wasn't quick enough. So we buried him [nearby] in Cams Wood. He came from Belfast.

It must have been 3 weeks there. We were supposed to make for Caen, into Caen. It was the Panthers [that stopped us]. Different Regiments of the Germans. They were right fighters!
So we went into Caen with the Canadians. We were the first Battalion in Caen, the Rifles. They had, the night before into Caen, there was a thousand-bomber raid. We watched them all from the hill where we were, going in and bombing. And we had to follow in after that, there was some bits of streetfighting, to clear the place. Battleships firing from sea - just landed too short!

I was lucky enough at the time. I went to Tyrone, a place called Tyrone. We lost a lot of men there. We went up to a crossroads, and up came a German tank, and he let fly. Some of the head NCOs and and a lot of the men was killed there, and they gave us a bit of a battering. We were held up there a while. We held up there.

NT transport. We had to move up 283 miles. You fed and all and slept in the vehicles. Then we got off up the river [Ypres?] and stayed there, then we had to go back for a rest. After from D-Day, up to river [Ypres?]. Then we moved towards Belgium, across into a place called River Erne.

We were doing an attack one night, with the 9th Brigade. The KOSB, they were with us, and they done their attack. The 2nd Batt did their attack.. and then the Second Lightenings came behind us, and they were forced back again. Our Col, Col Harris then, he said "we'll do it".

We started to move, and the next minute was a Very light up in the air, and the next minute was the mortar attack. It was a 7-barreled mobile mortar, and it had us pinpointed. I got one right up my side, and my mate was killed - he lay across my legs. He got it through the shovel on his back - it must have cut the spine or something. That was it. So that was me out.

2 weeks till the war was over. '45. I was hit in Belgium and then I was brought back to the field hospital. And then I was flown to Queen Elizabeth [orthapedic] in Birmingham, and I stayed there for a lot of months. Then I was sent to Osmond Street for the bone. And then down to Belfast - Craigavon hospital - and then I attended the Lagan Valley down here. I used to wear the caliper in the old leg. You can only bind [the leg] so much.

In 2nd Batt, A Coy, 9th Plat, there was 3 mates known as the "BBC" - [Stanley] Burrows, Bart and Crangle. Crangle was killed in Cams. As I said before, he wasn't quick enough. We were having a wee smoke on the top, and he was buried in Cams.

We used to get leave every 9 wks until the Invasion started. Maybe 14 days, maybe 7 days. The Ulster Rifles, we all came home together. When we came to the town here we went all our seperate ways, then we met up. Everything was all right. There were some injured. A fellow lost his finger, Tommy lost an eye, one fellow was killed by his own machine - Light Infantry. It was on the line, blew up. He was standing beside it, that was the last we seen of him.

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