Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Sword Beach to Bremen., A Veterans tale. Sapper

Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by sapper, Sep 18, 2002.

Tags:
  1. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    You are invited to join me as the story of the war from 'Sword' evolves until the final Victory in Bremen This story will evolve slowly as bits are added, it will describe the fear, the humour, and the downright stupidity. It will enable you to peer through the gates of Hell. share in the battles from the 'bloodiest square mile in Normandy' to the 'Dantes Inferno' of the Assault crossing of the Escaut canal. The race to 'Arnhem'. The bloody battles of 'Overloon and Venriaj'. Why? For no other reason than those who paid the ultimate sacrifice will be remembered.
    You input is sincerely invited.
    Sapper
     
  2. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2000
    Messages:
    8,270
    Likes Received:
    817
    Location:
    Jefferson, OH
    I look forward to reading these experiences. Thank you.
     
    rkline56 likes this.
  3. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    Of course, its all such a long time ago now. but for many of us old Veterans the pictures and scenes of battle are as fresh and sharp as they were back in 1944. At last, we were going to free the enslaved peoples of Europe from the Evil of the Nazi regime. During the war, messages had passed to the continent via radio, many of these messages made no sense at all, unless you held the code book. "Uncle joe has lost his teacups" "The river runs high today" "The horses are running" a lot of gibberish that only made sense when decoded. Then came that fateful day when the radio message that all Europe had been waiting for durimg the long years of occupation. The following message that foretold the coming invasion and spelled the death of many thousands of young men, and the utter destruction of the beautiful Norman country side. To be continued.
    Sapper
     
    Milestone likes this.
  4. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    The Invasion Warning to Occupied Europe.
    At Last. At Last!
    Prior to our landings there had to be adequate warning to the people of occupied France Belgium and Holland of the coming invasion. There had been messages passed over the radio in code to resistance groups for some considerable time during the years of occupation, messages that made little sense except to those who knew the code.
    The first warning to be broadcast was to inform the population of Europe that the invasion was to take place shortly The second broadcast to inform the people the invasion was to take place NOW.
    There has seldom been a broadcast with such momentous import, signaling the death of thousands of men and the destruction of the Norman Countryside.
    The first warning in French was as follows:

    "Les sanglots longs des violons de Autumne"
    Translated as:
    "The long sobs of the violins of Autumn"

    The second warning telling Europe that the invasion was to take place now! was:
    "Blessant mon coure d,un langouer monotone"
    Translated as:
    "Bless my heart with monotonous langour"

    Somehow these words seem to reflect the magnitude of the events that were to follow. The invasion by a mighty fleet, valiant deeds, many that went unrecognized, and the freeing of the enslaved peoples of occupied Europe. For us elderly Veterans who took part it was a great endeavour. What ever happens to us, we shall always be aware that we had a part in the shaping of history, we took part in those mighty battles, battles, where men died for what was right! Eventually, resulting in the freeing of the enslaved people of the continent from the evil disease of the Nazi yoke. Seldom in our long history could there have been a better cause than this. I am very proud to have taken part in this great crusade.
    Sapper.
     
    Milestone and rkline56 like this.
  5. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    25,883
    Likes Received:
    855
    Dear Sir: thank you for these words--I greatly enjoyed reading them, and as we all here will as well. Looking very much to seeing more of your postings.
     
    rkline56 and Sturmkreuz like this.
  6. Greg

    Greg Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Stories that are past down by word of mouth eventually lose the personnal aspect of the soldier. Written stories by those who were there can always be remembered the way they were supposed to be remembered.

    Looking for more postings.

    Thanks
     
    texson66 likes this.
  7. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    25,883
    Likes Received:
    855
    Greg--Gary and I need you to post at least 15 more so you can at least have a PH, I think Gary needs only 3 more postings to "get" his "PH". :D
     
  8. Greg

    Greg Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    I want an EK. How many for that?
     
  9. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    Shall we see England again?
    Many young men would not
    We embarked at Newhaven, inside the harbour the sea looked reasonable, but as we left the entrance the picture changed, and it was rough, very rough. I shall always remember the sight of hundreds of self-heating soup cans floating inside the harbour where they had been tossed overboard. We sailed our way first to Southampton, then after joining the huge circle of ships known as Piccadilly Circus, straight across the channel to Normandy, I was happy enough in this weather being used to boats and the sea, but Oh dear! many of those aboard wanted to die from sea-sickness. When someone called, "tea up", I hurried down below, when I returned I found a Soldier kneeling in front of my kit being sea-sick all over it, I thought at the time "this is a :fine way to free Festung Europa."

    In this narrative, I shall try to relate only those things that made a deep impression on the minds of a nineteen-year-old Country-man and his friends, caught up in the greatest military invasion the world has seen! I shall try not to write about the planning of the invasion, or repeat what has been described time and time again. I shall concentrate entirely on memories and events that stuck in the minds of a very ordinary young man. Just one of many thousands of ordinary men and women, who went off to fight for their country, in my case, a Sapper who was fortunate to serve with 246 Field Co R.E. That valiant band of brothers. A tiny, insignificant little cog, in a very big war machine.
    The memoirs serve to describe war and it's horrors and in all it's phases. For many of us Veterans, there are names that are virtually engraved on our soul, Queen red. Queen white. Hermanville. Benouville. Blainville. Lebisey. La Londe. Caen. Goodwood. Colombelles. Troarn. The river Orne and Canal. So many names that will never be forgotten by those who fought in Normandy. Bloody Normandy.
    Sapper
     
    Milestone, rkline56 and bigfun like this.
  10. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Excellent, sir! And many thanks for wanting to share that with us, young generations! I really enjoyed your posts and I am looking forward for the ones to come.
     
  11. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    Order of Battle.
    The first ashore were to be the DD tanks, quickly after that, the Assault Engineers, to clear the beach obstacles, then, at H plus tem minutes, the three Highly trained Assault demolition and Assault mine clearing teams supplied by my old Company 246 Field Company R. E. The observation officers for the artillery, Then the infantry battalions and the anti-tank gunners. Later still, the Commandos, But with specific tasks. (Taking the heavily defended post at "Lion").

    The three special Assault teams provided by 246 Field Co R E, were armed with 36lb "Beehive" explosive charges,designed to blow up the Concrete defensive and machine gun posts. These three teams were commanded by Lt Trench. Lt Edwards. and Lt Fields. Their task was to clear a path from the beach to the road beyond and to remove anything or anybody that stood in the way. No matter what, or who. They were also provided with Flame-throwers should there be too much opposition. For much depended on the successful completion of the path from the beach.
    All these tasks were completed as planned! Number 2 platoon were the first to open a mine free, and enemy free path from the beach. Allowing the rapid deployment of our forces from the beach inland.
    The terribly sad thing about all of tbis, is that had the Americans employed the same tactics of using special "Assault demolition, and Assault mine clearing teams" ensuring a rapid assault to clear a path from the beaches, Bloody Omaha 'MAY' not have claimed so many precious young American lives. But that is my opinion only, for I was not there, and can only go on what I have read, for us, it worked, and worked well.
    During the Assault, the small assault craft landing lost 29 out of the 38 they carried. Thus removing for ever the stupid legend that Sword was easy. IT was not, dare I say that much? For somehow the Legend of an easy landing on Sword has become fixed in History. When in point of fact it was far from that. here one must take into consideration the different approach of the two Armies. British and German armies had rigid discipline, while the American have a far more "Gung Ho" attitude. There is much to be said for the difference! For sometimes these two different approaches worked well in different situations. Don't think for a second that I am in any way crying down the Americans. NO Never. they were our 'brothers in arms' and we got on very well together. I liked the Yanks. Bless them. When we were alongside each other they spoiled us.
    The noise was terrific and gave me a tremendous headache. But we were ashore! and ready for the next bit of the plan. I also respected the fighting qualities of the Germans. They fought like Tigers. To be continued.
    Sapper.
     
    Milestone likes this.
  12. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    25,883
    Likes Received:
    855
    Thank you for this posting as well. I feel about the British and the soldiers of the UK, as you do of American soldiers.
     
  13. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Thank you, sir! I was amazed with each of your words!
     
  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Sapper :

    Sir, before you continue may I ask this ? How did the RAF fair in the opening stages in support of the British assault teams ? Was it existent at all providing strafing cover or mid altitude bombing of rearward positions ? We "kids" always hear of the tremendous off shore bombardments especially from US warships and of the B-26's taking out bridges and transport reserves during the early phase.

    Erich
     
  15. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    Hello Erich.
    The Royal Air Force were in complete control of the air space over Normandy, I have heard somewhere, that the number of British fighter planes available were 7000. The German Air Force was only to be seen on quick forays, and then away. The Naval gunfire was provided by the British Navy and was devastating in its effect.
    The greatest use of Air Power for supporting the Soldiers that did the fighting, was the "Typhoon" a British rocket firing fighter. As the campaign developed we had a "Cab Rank" of Typhoons flying over the battle areas, available to take out "dug in tanks" (hull down) or heavily defended positions. To explain Taxi cabs are parked in what is known as "Cab ranks" Typhoons served the purpose of being available from the 'taxi park' therefore the "cab rank" of "Tiffy's"

    These 'Typhoons seemed to stand still momentarily in the air when they fired their rockets. Some of the British Fighters complained, that as they ranged widely across the face of France, they had run out of targets!.
    Hope this is answers your question.
    Sapper.
     
    Milestone likes this.
  16. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    Some of you may find the following interesting for it is the Route that we travelled from Sword, across France, Belgium, and Holland.
    THE ROUTE.
    Newhaven. / Southampton / Piccadilly Circus in the Channel. / Sword beach. / Queen Red and Queen white sectors ./ Ouistreham. / Hermanville. / Morris"German position. / Hillman" German defence position. / The Orne canal and river. / Pegasus Bridge. / Benouville. / Coleville S Orne. / St Aubin d Arquenay. / Blainville. /Beauregarde. /Herouville. / Periers sur le Dan. / Beuville. / Bieville. / Lebisey. / Gazelle. / Le Mesnil. / Cambes. / Chateau De la Londe. / Le Landel. / Le Homme. / Escoville. /Epron. / La Bijude. / CAEN. /Across Pegasus bridge to Herouvillette. / Touffreville. / Sannerville. / Troan Road. / Bonneville. / Back across the Orne. / Benouville. / The Long move to Le Beny Bocage. / River Allure. / Vire and villages around. / WOUNDED S MINE./ The mad charge down the Tinchbray road. / Tinchebray. / Flers. / FALAISE POCKET. / The Chase across France toThe River Seine. / Les Andelys. / Amiens. / Arras. /Lille. /BELGIUM. / BRUSSELS. / Porte Joie. / Thielt. / Escaut canal.Lille st Hubert / HOLLAND. / Weert. / Helmond. / Heumen. / NIJMEGEN. / Recon; on the ARNHEM road. / Linden. / Mook./ The River Maas. / Vierlingsbeek. / Boxmee.r / Vortum. / Groeningeng. / Ooplo. / Overloon. / The Molen Beek. / Venraij. / Overloon to Venraij road in the Limburg area. / SEVERELY WOUNDED. /Shelling? / Helmond. / temp Hospital in school Eindhoven. / Hospital Airport to Croydon// / Croydon Hospital// / Warwick Hospital/ / Poole Hospital/ / Bovington Hospital/ / Shaftesbury Hospital/ / Lady Leas Lytchette Hospital/ / Lake House Rehab Hospital/ / Egham Rehab/ / At last back to Home Sweet Home!
    Sapper
     
    Joe likes this.
  17. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    A Query?
    I wonder how many read these postings? For I have no idea of the membership of this site. Or, come to that, who would be interested? The reason I ask, is that I do not travel far on the internet, I am not really conversant with the standard of practice, or what is expected of members. I just dived in. But! It would be interesting to find out how many read the postings, and, how often.
    Sapper.
     
    Milestone and Mortman2004 like this.
  18. Greg

    Greg Member

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    I am on evryday looking for new postings from you. Please keep them coming. :D :eek:
     
  19. sapper

    sapper British Normandy Veteran, Royal Engineers

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2002
    Messages:
    732
    Likes Received:
    198
    War! Bloody War!
    It stinks!
    One of my abiding memories, is that of incredible noise, heavy battleships were firing over our heads into the Enemy areas, the noise, as the shells screamed overhead plus the noise of our artillery and mortars gave me a headache so bad that I was glad to move forward.
    As we moved inland and captured enemy gun positions, we were surprised to find just how efficient the Germans were, they had oil paintings near their guns with a panoramic picture of the country side and with all the ranges laid out in detail

    This part of Normandy is a mixture of corn fields and the "Bocage" little fields with sunken lanes and high dense hedges, undulating and twisting dusty roads, with trees and lots of cover, for the infantry, a nightmare, and for the Enemy, a fortress easy to defend. At times the fire was intense, without our "Foxholes" we would not have lasted, and a terrible price was paid for each move forward. Every yard had to be fought for. It was now, that we quickly learned to be Veterans! There is nothing like the threat of death to instruct one in what is necessary to survive.

    The country North of Caen, between Caen and the sea, was nothing more than a “Killing Ground” for always and everywhere, there hung the smell of death, it was with you continually, the sweet sickly smell of death, Humans, and animals, bloated, with their legs stuck stiffly in the air, our soldiers did not always get buried, dead cattle were a continuing problem, the stench was overpowering and the sound of wounded cattle in pain was pitiful.

    I still have a picture in my memory of the pale orange coloured faces of those recently killed, they quickly bloated and then turned black as corruption overtook them. I hated the sound of Spandau fire, it always reminded me of someone tearing a dry bit of canvas. The sound of the moaning minnies, or multiple mortars was something else that I have not forgotten, it started off like the moaning of a banshee in the distance and then the sound grew as the missiles approached.

    Oh yes, I remember! Oh Yes. Yes! I remember…The concrete gun emplacements, the barbed wire, the expert use of Enemy mortars, they always knew where we were. The savage, and senseless, killing of young men on both sides. The terrible mutilations, for shell and bullet do not pick a convenient place to wound. Death comes often unsuspected, one moment a fine young man, the next a bundle of khaki uniform and a unrecognizable jumble of flesh in a grotesque position. Having to live and sleep with the dead all around you, my most abiding memory is that of exhaustion. Sleep was at a premium.

    It takes very little time to make a Veteran, I remember an event that was typical of Normandy, one night I arrived back to our area after being in contact with the Enemy all day, so tired that I did not dig a hole, I just lay down and fell asleep, when I awoke in the morning I found that I had slept with Germans buried all around me, so shallow that their boots stuck out of the ground, the telling thing about this, is that I thought nothing of it at the time. No sooner had we dug our hole to get some rest, than we were dragged out again to go somewhere else. Normandy was a murderous place, a murderous place! One other memory I recall was the superiority of the German weapons, while we were armed with the "Sten" a gun that fired when you did not want it to, and would not, when you did! My Sten fired on its own when I put it on the ground and nearly shot my best pal Harry Grey. We learned not to keep it loaded for fear of killing your own, something that nearly had a tragic outcome later. I remember the “Sten” cost about 7/6p to make, cheap and nasty, and very unreliable.
    Sapper.
     
  20. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    6,548
    Likes Received:
    48
    Well, sir, you can be perfectly sure that there are many people reading your immensely interesting posts. Certainly, I do. I have read and enjoyed a lot all of them. I sincerely feel respect and admiration for people like you, young men who gave all for their country. Thanks for sharing your tale, sir!
     
    Milestone likes this.

Share This Page