- Contributed by
- Elizabeth Lister
- People in story:
- JOHN CHANT
- Location of story:
- SOUTHAMPTON AND FRANCE
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 02 July 2005
This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer for CSVReading , Jim Grufferty,on behalf of John and Phyllis Chant of Salisbury and has been added to the site with their permission.
MEMORIES OF D-DAY LANDINGS
While on duty at Micheldever apart from other rotten jobs, I was in charge of the escort of certain valuable goods that were needed at the battlefront. There were trainloads of goods from Micheldever to the docks where we organised the transfer to the boats or anything else that was available. It was about D+9. We were going backwards and forwards to the beaches in small boats to the mulberry harbour at Aromanches in Normandy, which was Sword beach on D-Day. You had to make your own way back to England on any craft you could find space on.
On one particular day I was going across but we were not due to set sail until half past eight in the morning, so I went for a walk along to the Mayflower car park in Southampton. Looking out I could see a tank landing craft heading for the dockside. Gradually it got closer and the front was opened up as it reached the hard standing. It was full of poor old German prisoners of war. They looked terrible, been at sea all night, seasick dirty, captured straight off the battlefield. I looked up and saw a Southampton docker coming along riding a ladies bike, corduroys tied around with a leather thong as they had in those days. He got off the ladies bike, stared, turned to me and said “Them’s the Master Race”. Not another word but back on his bike and rode away.
We left Southampton on another occasion at about eight o’clock in the morning in a convoy. I was third in this little ship on the starboard side. There was a little boat just in front, a little way off, it hit a mine and was sunk in two minutes. Not a sign of it as we just drove through. I did notice though that a hospital ship that had gone through earlier and was about 200 yards ahead was turning round to pick up survivors and saved all but three apparently. That was about my seventh trip to France, so again I was lucky somebody up there loved me.
On one of my trips to Normandy transporting goods on a canal boat just outside Bayeaux. Two little French boys came up to us. It amazed me in that they spoke perfectly good English. Have you got any cigarettes for my Mum? I said no, to which he replied my mum said you can sleep with her if you wish for cigarettes. I said where is your Dad and he said he was a prisoner of war in Germany. My goodness what had things come to. Hasten to add I found him some cigarettes but declined his offer; I was tied to the boat.
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