- Contributed by
- Keith Halley
- People in story:
- Keith Halley
- Location of story:
- Colchester, Essex, England
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 February 2004
Although I was not quite five-and-a-half years old, I was a very bright lad, and I have clear memories of the night before D-Day, June 6, 1944.
I was living with my mother and her family in Colchester, Essex, which is, of course, a short hop from Kent and the Straits of Dover. I remember my mother waking me during the night, and standing me on a washing basket by her bedroom window. The sky was filled with the noise of aircraft, some of which were passing in formation low overhead. Also, the sky was alight with flares being dropped - presumably by pathfinder aircraft signalling to squadrons forming up over North-East Essex.
I can clearly remember my mother saying, and I quote:-
"This is the invasion. This is something we've all be waiting for. This is the invasion of Europe. This is something you'll remember all your life."
Then she said:- "There goes another lot", as a flight of aircraft roared overhead at little more than rooftop height. I suspected (aged 5) that they might have been US Army Air Corps P47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers - possibly from the airfield at nearby Langham, where we often used to watch them taking off and landing. We knew our aircraft in those days!
The only other D-Day memory I have is sitting at dinner (lunch) on June 6, and having to be very, very quiet. I can clearly remember sitting staring at the net curtain on the door between our living room and our family grocer's shop, and hearing the opening words on the BBC One o' Clock News: "Today is D-Day!"
I still didn't really know what it was all about, but I knew by the hushed reaction of the adults that something very important was happening. I'm just glad, now, that I have memories of part of it.
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