- Contributed by
- Cumbria Communities
- People in story:
- John Oliver
- Location of story:
- Normandy, France
- Background to story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 April 2005
On Sat 3rd June 1944 I reversed my lorry number 774080 onto a tank landing craft on the UK south coast. After the tank landing craft was full we anchored in the Solent.
Going up on deck I have never seen so many ships of various sizes in so small a space. We were anchored there until early hours of Tuesday 6th June when we set sail for Normandy. The crossing was rather rough but we eventually arrived off the coast of Normandy 2 hours after leaving the UK coast.
The captain of the ship took us in to land as far as he could but it was still too deep for the vehicles. We then drove onto what was known as a rhino raft which was a raft with no sides & accommodated 4 vehicles. The raft took us in to approximately a depth of 18 inches when a ramp was lowered. I well remember thinking that when I reached the top of the water I would float, but the vehicle went down into 10/12 inches of water. Several vehicles were water logged or had been damaged by shells & it was a case of manoeuvring around disabled vehicles to get up to the beach onto the promenade. Then we had to remove all the water proofing equipment we had put on vehicles.
It was then a question of finding the right destination for the equipment on board. It wasn’t long before we were called into operation when we put a bridge across the Caen Canal. Until the end of the war we were engaged in bridging canals and rivers in France, Belgium, Holland & Germany. Most of the time we were under fire during our operations.
Soon after we finished these operations, the 106 Bridge Company was disbanded and most of the personnel were transferred to other units.
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