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15 October 2014
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Jack Reeves Coastal Forces Memories

by cambsaction

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
John Reeve (Jack)
Location of story: 
Gosport and Omaha
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
22 July 2005

(This story was submitted to the Peoples War website by a volunteer from Radio Cambridgeshire Action Desk at the Duxford VE Day commemorations on behalf of Jack Reeves and has been added to the site with his permission. Mr Reeves fully understands the site's terms and conditions).

D DAY Operations:

We went out to the Solent and we meet up with the landing craft and everything was postponed for 24 hours. I was a navigation leader and we went to Sword beach next to Omaha beach. What we had to do was lead the landing craft into specific points and I was the radar operator. We had to stop just off the beach and let the landing craft onto the beach. We were there as sitting duck to act as a marker for the landing craft. Luckily we didn’t even get a scratch on our paintwork. I didn’t see much of what was gong on as I was locked in the cabin, but I could hear it, although I think I would have liked to haven seen it. The boats were all made of wood so you could hear everything. At the time you didn’t realise how important it was, you just do as you were told. You do what you have to do and just get on and do it there was no time for arguments.

After that thing got rather quiet so we did convoy escorts. One job they gave us they called the “Trout Line” it was a line of boats that used to go out at the armourage at Omaha to protect against mini submarines — it was a protected line. After that they found a very nice job for us cruising up and down the coast line finding bodies! That wasn’t very pleasant. All we had to do was take the identify disc off them, wire a weight around their legs and drop them back in, the smell from that was terrible. We had a hose pipe running all the time, the smell permutated all the time. That was in June — we went in for refit in Poole in November and they took the boat out of the water and there was a team of women painters ready to go on board, they all went on board bar 1 — she said “I can smell death!”

When I went on home leave my mum said do you have any washing? I emptied all the washing on the kitchen floor and she could smell the same smell — decomposing bodies, and that was in November!

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