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15 October 2014
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Contributed by 
brssouthglosproject
People in story: 
P.O. Morgan Griffiths, RN, Capt Raymond Hart, P.O. Jack Bacon, Able Seaman Jack Davis.
Location of story: 
Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
A5342348
Contributed on: 
26 August 2005

Petty Officer Morgan Griffiths, who served on HMS Vidette, and recalled the events leading up to 6th June 1944, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France.

This story has been contributed by David Griffiths, the proud son of Morgan Griffiths. David Griffiths gives his permission to use this story on the website, and is fully aware of the sites terms and conditions.

There are three men known to me who served on the Vidette. My father, Petty Officer, Morgan Griffiths, whose job in the galley was to feed the crew, and his two mates. Petty Officer Jack Bacon was my father’s supply officer, who after the war worked at the local Co-op store in Bishopsworth, Bristol, as manager; the other friend and comrade was Able Seaman Jack Davis. His job was in charge of depth charges. Jack was also a Bristol man, he and my father used to travel together home on leave. Around this time I would have been about 8 years old. I was always pleased to see dad when he came home.

Recall from the North Atlantic:

HMS Vidette under the command of Captain Raymond Hart was recalled from the North Atlantic to join the invasion fleet, to support the landing of thousands of American fighting troops onto the beaches of France on D-Day, 6th June, 1944. A real veteran of the Battle of the Atlantic, the Vidette had put the total of six submarines to the sea bed.

5th June, 1944:

The minesweepers did their job sweeping and clearing the channel of mines in preparation for the invasion of Europe. The decision to go was given by General Eisenhower. The special order of the day to all officers and men was from Admiral Sir Bertram H Ramsey:

SPECIAL ORDER OF THE DAY TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF THE ALLIED NAVAL EXPEDITIONARY FORCE

‘It is to be our privilege to take part in the greatest amphibious operation in history — a necessary preliminary to the opening of the Western Front in Europe which, in conjunction with the great Russian advance, will crush the fighting power of Germany.

This is the opportunity which we have long awaited, and which must be seized and pursued with relentless determination: the hopes and prayers of the free world and of the enslaved peoples of Europe will be with us and we cannot fail them.

Our task, in conjunction with the Merchant Navies of the United Nations, and supported by the Allied Air Forces, is to carry the Allied Expeditionary Force to the Continent, to establish it there in a secure bridgehead, and to build it up and maintain it at a rate which will outmatch that of the enemy.

Let no one underestimate the magnitude of this work.

The Germans are desperate and will resist fiercely until we out-manoeuvre and out-fight them, which we can, and we will do. To every one of you will be given the opportunity to show by his determination and resource that dauntless spirit of resolution which individually strengthens and inspires and which collectively is irresistible.

I count on every man to do his utmost to ensure the success of this great enterprise, which is the climax of the European War.

Good luck to you all, and God speed’

Signed Admiral, Allied Expedition B.H. Ramsey, RN, Chief.

********************************************
The United States and British ships commenced with a thirty minute bombardment of the enemy positions on OMAHA beach. My father said it was unbelievable. After this ‘softening up’ the first waves of American Soldiers in their landing craft made their way towards the beaches and the German defences. The Germans opened up on the infantry of Sectors code-named Easy Red and Fox Green. The Americans were taking a terrible beating on the beach. In the first two hours there were many casualties. Many of the troops only making a few steps from their landing craft. Fortified German bunkers would rake the beach with murderous effect.

It was then that the Vidette was ordered to get in as close as possible, turn side on and bring its guns up to bear on the German defences, shore batteries and, at the Captain’s discretion, any target of opportunity.

Able Seaman Jack Davis put to sea in a boat in an attempt to pickup as many of the wounded men that he could, also to collect Dog Tags from the Dead American soldiers and return them to the ship. Later Jack was awarded a medal for his efforts. This modest man is still alive today in his eighties, living in Brislington, Bristol.

I have made contact with Jack, found him after sixty years, and took my mother to see him, to reminisce and remember the times they must have met in passing when my father and he got off the train at Bristol Temple Meads station for shore leave.

I will close now by saying there was one thing said by a soldier who radioed from OMAHA Beach on D-Day. THANK GOD FOR THE NAVY.

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