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'Cockney' 51st Highland Division member at D-Day landings

by BBC Scotland

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Archive List > World > France

Contributed by 
BBC Scotland
People in story: 
Robert Stacey
Location of story: 
Northern France (D-Day Landings)
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
09 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Claire White of BBC Scotland on behalf of Robert Stacey and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

I landed on an LST (Landing Ship Tank) on D-Day (6 June 1944) with the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Inventory. We were with the Seventh Armoured Brigade (the Desert Rats) and there were many casualties at the scene. I was 19 at the time and despite seeing people being killed, I didn't imagine anything would happen to me.

We were on the beaches for a fortnight and the Germans targeted us with big guns. After three weeks the 51st Highland Division met the Germans at Lisuex and suffered lots of casualties. They transferred half of us to the Highland Division so I'm a cockney in the 51st.

We went to Le Harve and the Germans broke through in the Ardennes and I was in the brigade that was sent to the Ardennes. I've never felt such cold in all my life!

I was on guard in a trench one day when I heard the crack of a twig and saw a German soldier coming towards me. He tried to pull out his gun, we fought and he was captured by our side. We often fought hand-to-hand with the Germans in Reichswald Forest. It was frightening but necessary to preserve life.

Today I feel lucky to be alive. I was wounded at Loonopzand and taken to a Belgian hospital but I returned to the front line in time to do a Rhine crossing and finished up at Bremmerhaven.

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