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Ken Oakley's D-Day: Royal Navy Commandoicon for Recommended story

by DDay_Veterans

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Ken Oakley
Location of story: 
Normandy, France
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 May 2004

Ken Oakley on a Normandy beach in 2004 (Photo: Mark Collins)

This is Ken Oakley's account of his D-Day:

I was 22 years old on D-Day, an ordinary seaman and assistant to the beachmaster with a Royal Navy commando. Our job was to get everything organised on the beach, mark where the landing craft should come in, and call in supplies.

The night before D-Day, the senior army officer said to us, 'You're with the first of several waves. If you do not survive, we will send in the second wave, and if they do not survive, we will send in a third wave, and so on until we have captured the beach.'

That was a very nice thought to go to bed with.

At 3.30am on D-Day we were woken up and told to get ready. We were within sight of our objective. At 5am we got into the landing craft assault (LCA) to make for Sword beach. There were several other LCAs around us. The sea was choppy, and many of the soldiers were sick. We were looking out for the dreaded stakes with 50 six-pound bombs or mines attached to them, and when they came into sight, the coxswain steered towards a gap to our right. It was very, very tight but he did a marvellous job and just missed one shell that would have blown us completely out of the water.

And then, bang, we were on the beach, down the ramp.

Everything had been kept so secret, we didn't know what was going on around us at the time. We just saw our own landing. I was the beachmaster's bodyguard, and the two of us ran forwards up to the beach. We were targeted by multiple mortars and the fire from them was very, very heavy. All around us were landing craft coming in bang, crash, wallop and out you get, and everything was absolute chaos. It was 6.10am and we were among the first wave to hit the beach.

Injured comrade

A bit later the commander came up to me and said that Sid had been severely wounded, and could I help him. I went along the beach and Sid was lying in the sand, very badly wounded. I pushed his kidney back into his body, and told him to be careful, I didn't want him to spill that out again. I managed to get him along to the first aid post and they looked after him. Sid made a good recovery, and was eventually the best man at my wedding!

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Forum Archive

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - Royal Navy Commandos

Posted on: 07 June 2004 by jarvey

My father, John "Jack" Javis was a Chief Petty officer with the RN Commandos. He landed before H-Hour with the Canadians (on Juno I believe), lost his commanding officer and had to lead the troops until shortly before getting wounded some months later (not sure for how long). He told me very little about his war time experiences before his death in 1992 but I was fortunate enough to visit a few places with him where he fought, Normandy, Dieppe. One of the few stories he would tell was about him driving around in a jeep with a baby pig!!

I never got to see any of his medals only the paper work. I do know he was mentioned in despatches a couple of times.

How can I find out more information about him, his medals and the commandos he served with?

Thank you
Steve Jarvis


Message 2 - Royal Navy Commandos

Posted on: 06 April 2005 by IAMRNFAN

Hi steve
Just come across your entry re above. My late fathers friend Sidney Wood left HMS Javelin and joined the RN commandos. He was killed on D Day landing on Sword Beach and is buried in Hermanville cemetary (I have visited). There is a page on here under Ken Oakley re RN commandos. Also I have purchased a book Beachhead Assault by David Lee published by Greenhill Books available from Amazon which covers the story o the Royal Navy Commandos in WW2. I hope this helps a little.
Steve - iamrnfan.

Message 1 - Ken Oakley's D-Day

Posted on: 14 October 2004 by IAMRNFAN

Ken's entry was created by DDay veterans and I was very interested in his story. My fathers best friend was Sidney Wood who joined the RN Commandos and was landed on Sword beach at the same time as Ken. Sadly he was killed 5/6 June and is buried in Hermanville cemetary which I have visited to pay my respects.

I would be interested if anyone knows of Sidney and the history of how the R.N.Commandos were formed and where they trained etc.

Message 1 - Sword Beachmaster's Party

Posted on: 17 November 2004 by holejohn

My father, Ordinary Seaman H.B.Hole, was a member of the Sword Beachmaster's party on D Day. He was aged thirty seven on that day and has been dead for twenty two years.

I am trying to find out all I can about what he did on that day in response to inquiries from my grandchildren.

I was delighted to read Ken Oakley's account and would welcome the oportunity to communicate with him directly.

John Hole


Message 2 - Sword Beachmaster's Party

Posted on: 06 April 2005 by IAMRNFAN

Dear John
Sorry I cannot provide details of that day but my late fathers friend Sidney Wood landed on Sword that day. Sadly he was killed and is buried in Hermanville cemetary (have visited) He had left HMS Javelin and joined the RN Commandos. There is a recent book Beachhead Assault by David Lee - Greenhill Books available from Amazon which covers the story of the Royal Navy Commandos in WW2 which I can recommend and may be of interest to you, your children and grandchildren.
I Hope this helps a little as I too have had no response from Ken.
Regards Steve - Iamrnfan.

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