- Contributed by
- S.C Wagstaff
- People in story:
- Sydney Charles Wagstaff
- Location of story:
- D-Day 6th June 1944 onboard HMS Fury
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 07 May 2005
Sydney Charles Wagstaff aged approx 24 years
Memories From The Invasion Of France
D. Day June 6th 1944
By Sydney Charles Wagstaff B E M
I was a crew member of HMS Fury and at this particular time the ship was operating in the Mediterranean around the Dodecanese Islands for several months. We then received orders to report back to Portsmouth in anticipation of something big about to happen the invasion of France, we found out that it was to be the 5th of June but a letter from General Ike was sent out postponing the invasion on account of the severe weather. The weather improved overnight signalling that this was the day D day the invasion of France.
HMS Fury arrived of the coast of Arromanches at approximately 6am maybe half hour either way. All ships were in position then the order was given “Open Fire” the bombing and shelling started the noise flashes of the explosions lit up the sky, troops began to land. After the initial shelling, the troops started to move inland and HMS Fury took up her position to patrol the perimeter of the invasion area to ward off an attack from any German Submarines. We stopped patrolling the area at dusk and dropped anchor for the night. In the morning we started preparations to start patrolling again and as we began to get underway there was a terrific explosion which lifted the ship several feet out of the water I was below decks at my station when this happened and I immediately thought self preservation and made my way up to top deck to see what I could do. Due to the explosion which to this day I don’t know what caused it. It could have been an acustic mine or even a torpedo from one of the German submarines we had been trying to find I just don’t Know. However, the ship was immediately disabled and she began to list to port. With no engines or power we started to drift around the outer area colliding with several other ships, an attempt was made to take us in tow several times but, this was not successful. The listing of the ship was increasing and the order was given to discharge top weight, which included Depth Charges, Torpedoes anything which was heavy and could be removed. After making safe the ship continued to drift around and by now it was starting to get dark. A message from ashore came which more or less said you are on your own but the tide has turned which will bring you ashore. We did eventually hit the rocks about a hundred yards from a cliff face. The captain asked for strong swimmers to take a line to shore so that the rest of us could evacuate. At the time the sea was running heavy and our orders were to get over the side and using the line make our way to the shore sometimes swimming and walking. Once we got ashore we were told not to move, stay put where we were until the shore could be checked for mines or booby traps. We were brought tins of soup which were heated through a chemical reaction somehow.
We were taken from the cliff face inland, issued with army uniform and housed in tents. At the time anti-aircraft fire was in progress which went on for several days with shrapnel ripping through the tents and for my protection I used my cork life jacket on my head. At this time the mulberry harbour was being assembled in this particular area. After a few days most of the ships crew had returned home by other ships but a few of us were left in France and moved from place to place we also received an injection for typhus at one point. On one of these movements the driver lost his way and we were heading for the front line with the troops walking along the hedge rows in the country lanes. Bayuex had just been taken and the battle for caen was taking place.
After a while it was decided to make an attempt to take the ship home after repairs had taken place and the sea water pumped out. The ship was stabilized and we were ready to be taken under tow and on our way home. All the aforementioned had taken place in three weeks. HMS Fury However was scrapped at Britton Ferry. I returned to barracks Portsmouth to await my next ship this ship turned out to be HMS Loch Achray a frigate which had just been completed at South Bank Middlesbrough after working up trials we headed for the Mediterranean.
Prior to D-Day I saw service on the Russian Convoys PQ18 I met the great man himself Sir Winston Churchill, he came aboad HMS Scylla to congratulate the ships company on a successful mission and as he shook my hand he said "Uncle Stalin will be pleased " my photograph was taken with him but, alas I have lost it. I also served on the aircraft carrier HMS Imdomitable.
Sydney Charles Wagstaff B E M
Aged 84 19th October 2004
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