- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Dorothy Perkins (now Graeme), Cdr.J.Best R.N.R., Lieut.Cdr.N.A.J.Gaunt (First Lieutenant of HMS Wasp)
- Location of story:
- Dover, English Channel
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 13 May 2005
Dorothy Perkins in her WRENS uniform
This account was written the day after D-Day by Dorothy Graeme (nee Perkins) who was a WREN stationed at Dover at the time.
At 0800 hours lower decks were cleared, and the commander (Cdr.J.Best, R.N.R.) addressed the Ship’s company.
Much to everyone’s surprise, he announced that the long awaited day had at last arrived — Invasion Day — and that at that very moment Allied landings were being made. A letter from Admiralty was read, and two prayers were read — the prayer before going into battle, and the prayer of the Royal Navy. Everyone today seems very subdued. Everything is still — abnormally so.
Nothing was apparently happening, until 1320, when a shelling warning was sounded. We stayed in the office until 1230, our usual lunchtime, and then adjourned to the Mess. The 1300 news gave particulars of the Allied landings on the Seine.
When the “All Clear” was sounded at 1230, P.O. and I walked to Shakespeare Cliff. It was an interesting, but rather heartbreaking sight, for along with various trawlers in the Channel, was one Liberty Ship which had been shelled. Smoke was rising furiously amidst the flames, as the ship moved slowly onwards across the sea. Five High Speed Launches (manned by the RAF) came skimming across the water towards Ferry Dock, presumably having picked up the casualties. Various rumours arose regarding the incident, and apparently it was a troop ship, for during the afternoon casualties were brought to the dressing station in Ferry Dock, in ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross.
At 1640 another shelling warning was sounded. As there seemed to be very little action, we stayed in the office until we were aware that a convoy was proceeding. Immediately Ada and I walked up to the Officers’ flat to get a view. It was a remarkable sight — large ships, small ships, destroyers, mine layers and motor torpedo boats — all laying their black and white smoke screens. The ships looked wonderful in the sunlight — a covering aircraft flying, it seemed, just a few yards above them. The “All Clear” sounded about an hour after; no shells appeared to come over.
At 1815 we packed up at the office, and P.O. and I rushed to Shakespear Cliff to see if there was anything about. The Channel looked very clear of ships, apart from one or two scattered trawlers in the distance. The coast of France was barely visible.
Activity during the night, much to our surprise was NIL.
7th June 1944.
Everything remained quiet until 1100 when the shelling warning was again sounded. As usual Olive and I rushed to our window in the Officers’ flat, where we had a glorious view of the ships going through. Through a telescope, borrowed from the First Lieut.of HMS WASP (Lieutenant Commander N.A.J.Gaunt), I could just distinquish the type of ships flying their colours, The shelling warning remained for about an hour and a half, and then we repaired to lunch in the Mess.
After lunch we had our usual routine of Squad Drill near the annexe. Just as we were about to begin, a shell came over, bursting on the cliff beyond the citadel. Everyone rushed for cover, while several salvoes of shells came over. We remained in the Mess until 1400 and again the sirens went. The warning lasted until 1910. Again we retired to the Mess.
Activity during the night was negligible, except for the drone of planes throughout the silent hours, and at dawn.
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