- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Charles "Chick" Carmichael
- Location of story:
- RAF Merston
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 31 January 2006
I do not know what my grandfather did on D-Day — the entry for 6 June 1944 in the Operations Record Book for 2777 squadron gives nothing away. But the ORBs for the squadron he was transferred to in August 1944 (2742 squadron) gives the following account which demonstrates the versatility of RAF regiment personnel.
2742 squadron were at RAF Merston in June 1944. Based there were 145 Wing of the RAF, part of 84 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force. Three spitfire squadrons were based at Merston, being Nos. 329, 340 and 341 — all Free French squadrons. Their job on D-Day involved providing low air cover over the beaches. As an example, 329 squadron flew the following sorties on D-Day:
0900-1050 — 12 aircraft patrolled Caen — Bayeaux
1400-1555 — 12 aircraft patrolled Le Havre — Trouville
1720-1920 — 12 aircraft patrolled Caen — Bayeaux
At 2000-2200, 12 aircraft escorted gliders troops to Caen — Albermarles towing Horsas.
2742 squadron’s ORBs record that, on 5th June 1944, “Normal squadron training. Today brought news that will make 6th June 1944 a date to be remembered by all of us. All officers were called to 145 Wing briefing room at 22.00 hours where we were told that “D” day was to be dawn on 6th June 1944. Excitement ran high following the briefing. Information was kept from other ranks until the morning of the 6th. Gliders towed by Halifaxes and Lancasters passed over in a steady stream from 22.30 hours until 00.30 hours on the 6th. Heavy bombers followed during the night.”
On the 6th, the ORB records “Squadron personnel received the news with excitement and, in most cases, surprise. It is difficult to praise too much the efforts of those responsible for the security of the invasion.”
The entry goes on: “We immediately supplied 30 men to the airfield for rearming and refueling, a task which they took on with enthusiasm. Wireless news was listened to eagerly and we were all grateful to hear that things were proceeding satisfactory on all counts.”
The squadron continued to assist the RAF with flying operations in support of the Normandy landings throughout June. On 7th June, “Airmen loaned to the airfield for rearming and refueling have done a good job and have been congratulated by CTO. They ask for another flight of men today and we are supplying them. As we are doing a petrol dump guard in addition, the greater part of our rifle flight personnel are now employed on the airfield.”
The entry for the 8th records that “Two flights employed permanently on airfield plus a 24 our guard of 6 men on the petrol dump. With one flight on camp duties and one flight on day off, training has been brought to a standstill.” And on the 13th, “Squadron largely employed on the airfield rearming and refueling.”
I suspect that this picture reflects what happened at other airfields where RAF Regiment were stationed.
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