- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Jack Craddock
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- 20 February 2004
This is the story of my father Jack Craddock. Here are his words:
Statement of Private JW Craddock (aged 20 years) with the 5th Battalion East Yorks (50th division) 6th June 1944
We had embarked on the L.C.A's (Landing Craft Assault) in the early hours of 6th June 1944 in rough seas a mile or so from Gold Beach in Normandy. We had to crouch down in the run in, but I remember popping my head up and admiring the big warships all in a row pumping shells into the shore.
We landed in fairly shallow water at approximately 7.00am ("H" hour) at a little place called La Riviere (not far from Arromanches) and despite most of the party being pretty sick we landed in good fettle and made our way in shore.
Just ahead of me a sniper shot my friend Sapper Lacey and I remember having to walk past him and assuring him that the stretcher bearer would be along as soon as possible, but sadly he died shortly afterwards (or so I was told). It would have been his job to clear the mines.
We made good progress in land without too many problems apart from the mortar shelling and the fact that some American planes mistakenly strafed us instead of Jerry. We reached a point overlooking Tilly sur Seulles not far from Caen on the Sunday evening June 11.
Our platoon was instructed "dig in" in the midst of a large cornfield. Having started the digging Jerry who was concealed in positions in woods on each side of the field commenced firing with Spandau machine guns and almost immediately my officer (Lieutenant Sykes)was caught in the chest and died. His last words to me were to get the Piat (an anti-tank gun) into action against a Tiger Tank which was coming up from the bottom of the field. In twisting round for the Piat, I was caught with a bullet in the side which bounced off a rib, went through a lung and came out. I coughed up some blood, but otherwise was not too bad.
It was by now getting dark and I was able to crawl under the tracer bullets, which lit up in the dark, and were criss crossing just above the corn. I managed to reach a nearby First Aid Station. They bandaged me up and onto a hospital ship back to Dover (Jerry bombed the ship but fortunately missed) and I arrived back in "Blighty" on Wednesday June 14. As it subsequently transpired this was the extent of my active service (just 8 days).
Back at the clearing hospital in Basingstoke, a pal in my platoon was totally shattered to see me telling me that he had identified my dead body and reported accordingly. I dashed off a postcard to my parents who received it the day before a telegram from the War Office reporting me missing believed killed!
I was three months in hospital being stitched up. They did a good job and I was reclassified A1. On my way back to the frontline which was now on the Dutch/German border (where some of the fiercest fighting took place) a clerk (bless him) noticed on my paybook I was a law student and told me they needed a guy like me with legal qualifications to help prepare Summaries of Evidence for Court Martial against various absentees and deserters.
So I was given a desk job for the remainder of the war doing just that.
On one of my leaves I did go to see Sapper Lacey's widow and small children who lived in a cottage not far from Holmfirth in Yorkshire.
I returned to visit the beaches in Normandy in June 2002 (58 years after the event) but that is another story.
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