Major I H K Rae, MC, RA

The embarkation [for Operation Overlord) took place at NEWHAVEN, and I never saw men in better heart. When the operation was postponed 24 hours, there was great disappointment; and when it was finally decided upon, one would have thought from the singing they were all going on block leave. The Battalion was embarked on three LCIs, and when these light top heavy craft began to roll on the choppy seas, singing ceased and many were thoroughly sick.

I pinned my faith to Hyocine Tablets, and remained fit the whole time, finding myself almost the only officer able to serve out the maps which were unsealed on the afternoon of 5 June. About 90% of the craft inspected those maps with more interest than they ever showed before or since; it was the first time they knew for certain where the landing was to take place.

“Y” Company now reported that they were being nhard-pressed, and that their Officer Commanding, Major STEELE, had been killed by a machine gun bullet. Lieut Colonel MAURICE had to decide whether to reinforce them and push on, and consolidate and make a firm base of BEIVILLE village, which in any case had not yet been fully cleared. Having considered that the enemy tanks on the right were still able to counter-attack, that our own tanks could therefore give no further close support owing to this threat across open country, and most of all, that there was no sign of following up troops to hold the ground already gained in the event of a local defeat being sustained, the Colonel reluctantly ordered “Y” Company to withdraw at first dark. During this period “Y” Company Second-in-Command, Captain DANE, most effectively directed the fire of the Regiment on to a house containing enemy troops immediately in front of his Company. Colonel MAURICE and I, watching from the forward edge of BEIVILLE, received the corrections over his 18 set, and fire orders were passed to Captain TOOTH, sitting in his tank about 50 yards in rear.

Back to reminiscences