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- D.Day Landings
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- 02 August 2004
14426143 Sig. D.Lyons. No.1 Company 6thAirborne Div. Sigs Regt.
Recollections of Operation “Overlord”
Sunday June 4th 1944, in a sealed camp somewhere in the Midlands, members of our signals unit were called together and told that the long awaited time had arrived and that night we were off to Normandy. While in the camp we had been given our final briefings, and on a large model which showed every detail of the area of our drop zone we could see exactly where we had to go. So we were taken to the airfield and introduced to the crew of the Stirling bomber which was to take us to France.
I cannot remember the numbers on the plane but I remember that on the nose was painted the name GLORIA ANNE
Then there was an anti climax. Bad weather had forced a postponement, so it was back to the camp and a rather sleepless night. The following day we tried again, this time with better luck. We drew and fitted our chutes and waited. Eventually we climbed aboard, the engines started and we began to move.
The flight lasted several hours and the noise of the engines made conversation difficult, but what talk there was died away when the dispatcher came back from the flight deck and opened the doors over the jump aperture. The Stick formed up down the length of the plane. Stirlings were not meant to carry passengers and the low head room meant that we were standing bent over. Then Red Light On, Stand to the door, Green light on, and we were away. The invasion had started.
After the noise of the plane, which we could now hear getting fainter as it climbed away and turned to fly back to England for another load, things seemed a lot quieter until the ground defences opened up with a spectacular firework display. It was very dark and as it appeared that we had been dropped fairly high it seemed to take a long time to reach the ground.. We were fairly heavily loaded, as members of our stick were carrying kit bags of explosives for the Royal Engineers who were to destroy the anti-glider poles for when the main lift came in.
When I landed I was all alone. Because of the height that we jumped the stick was spread out and separated. A few minutes later another stick landed and I was able to join them. As we moved across the field a French voice called from the side. It was a member of the Maquis, and as my new friends had a wounded man with them he took us to a nearby farmhouse, where the farmer and his wife looked after the casualty.
We set up a machine gun post at the crossroads and checked our position. While we got this sorted out another stick came up with one of my own unit so the two of us decided to make our way to Ranville, where Div. HQ was to be set up in the Chateau. As we moved along we came across our first fatality, an officer of the Engineers was lying in the road. I never did manage to hand over my load of explosives to its rightful owners.
Subsequent checking of the map showed that I had landed about a mile and a half north east of the bridge which was one of the Divisions’ main targets. I stayed with HQ.Di.Sigs for the rest of that operation, and with the rest of the Division came back to England via the Mulberry Harbour, and an old cross Channel steamer taken over by the Navy, now called HMS Invicta.
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