Diary of a soldier in the East Riding Yeomanry BLA June 5th Monday 6am LCT374 Sailed at 5.54. D-Day is Tuesday, sea very rough but I am not feeling sick, good night rest. June 6th Tuesday D-Day 1 D-Day has dawned,I cant say how I feel, every thing looks calm and peaceful, we sight the shores of France at 900 hrs. The navy in force is bombarding, we prepare to land at 1100 hrs at Leon sur mer, but cannot make it, beach is overcrowded , as we pull out , shore batteries open up, plenty of near misses, thank the lord , eventually we touchdown at 1300 hrs. I am in a tank getting an eyeful through periscope, motorbike is roped on side of tank, only spasmodic snipers fire as we go into the water, wave breaks over tank just about drowns me, tanks go to dewater proofing area, remove byke , plenty of air scraps, tanks go straight into action , flail tanks go to town on minefields, 2 tank casualties, one with a mine one with 88mmgun, we harbour for the night at Hermanville , our first casualty 1 man killed with shell whilst sleeping. June 7th Wed D2 Paratroops bring in 100 prisoners up from Caen canal , snipers are giving us some trouble , 2 in church tower, tanks shoo them out , gliders came in last night with supplies for airborne , we advance into Gayelle this afternoon , held up at Peveen sur le dam by snipers PBJ shift them , gunned from the air by ME 109 very close shave that time. 88mm are giving tanks some trouble, Jerry shot some of our lads taken prisoner, he will pay for that. June 8th Thurs D3 Cloudy day and rain, go to Hermanville with casualties, got sniped in Jerries, they must have returned during the night , nothing much doing today , both sides getting ready for next round. June 9th Frid D4 Stand to 330am , jerry plane over , no one bothers , tanks go in action Cambes Wood to shoot ---R in it sounds like all hell let loose. Our tanks are getting knocked out , mortar fire closer , Johnny Dunn has been reported killed. That news has knocked the wind out of me , I cant believe it , the battle goes on till 12.30 at night , this is black Friday for me, I feel in the dumps. June 10th Sat D5 Johnnies death has been confirmed. Jerry planes over, we take up our scrap where we left off , RWRs have taken Cambre Wood. On recon with CO as his bodyguard , sniper gave us a rough time , got back ok. Harbour for night in German billets at Gayelle , plenty of mines and booby traps , jerry left in a hurry and did not set them. Had bath in 2 buckets , mortar fire during night. June 11th Sunday D6 Withdrawn from action to day for rest. Staffs Yeo relieve us. We go south of Caen to a farm. steve oz Diary of a soldier in the East Riding Yeomanry BLA June 12 Mon D7 Went to Cambres last night got shelled in dairy , but lady luck was with me. Saw dead German in BMW machine, bike also shot up to bad to ride away. Planes over tonight bombing beach , dropped plenty near us and nearly brought the place down , one truck of ours went up, slept well after he had finished. June 13th Tues D8 All quiet with us , fine day , did maintenance. RAF raid Caen , artillery shell jerry positions, bad smell from 2 well dead Germans as I came down the road. In C sent Dick Hodgson to bury them. June 14th Wed D9 I am cooking for our party today. Charlie Dobson came to help me with the DRs and to take Johnny Dunns place , planes over tonight, the sky is full of tracers. June 15th Thurs D10 Moved out and took up old positions at Cambres Wood , it’s a waiting game this , mortar fire very close , wrote letter , did washing , early to bed. June 16th Frid D11 Bike giving trouble , went with Charlie on the Cambre road to wrecked bykes for spares , jerry spotted us and mortared us , we did a breeze , but none to soon, helped ourselves to a cabbage , peas and onions , Charlie cooked , did some washing , its none to clean. More mortar fire , no mail , planes over. June 17th Sat D12 Eggs for breakfast, Charlie and Jack Coney got mined up in a low flying dogfight but got back ok. Monty sent us some fags, practise turn out , took us half hour. CO not satisfied , letters and papers from home, shell and mortar fire very heavey , Jerry got a lucky shot on one of S squad tank. 1 officer killed 4 men badly hurt , he has got our range alright. June18th D13 Slept badly, last night mortar fire very hot.Won extra rations, news is good. Yanks cut off Cherburg. Think brother Tom has landed, German A A shooting at Jiffys. Mond June 19th D14 Quiet night, Raining, nothing doing for us, went to Douvres *** quite a large town, roads are like quagmires, had to go to Periers at 2300hrs, ran into our patrols, only just remembered password, nearly my lot, quick on the trigger these lads, NO MAIL. Tues June 20 D15 Dull, strong wind, roads drying, out long range mortar gone Jerry positions a pounding, troop carrier over. No mail. Wed June 21 D16[Jerry shelled us at 12:30 Dinner time, shells dropped right in on us, Killed 4, wounded 4, God knows how I am alive, Shell also landed on M.G’s half* track, set it on fire, 3 of my pals under it Dennis Windley, Dick Hodgson, Bob Moody, both badly wounded in the head, poor old Dick, Bob died same night, It made me wild to sit or do nothing about it. Dick is my second D.R, to be killed, Dennis makes the first to be wounded. Moved to new positions at tea time, Dicks byke burnt out, Charlies byke shot to bits, also Sgt O Haras, mine O.K, feel depressed, Hell of a headache, dug trench, must be reaction. June 22nd Thurs 17 Have been in France 17 days, seems like years Dennis Windley will live. Major Hyde has died ,his wounds were terrible, maybe it was best, Jack Helmeley, Sgt Harness, Bill Wells were the lads killed with Dick yesterday, moved to a Chateau, am sleeping on a divan, if fleas and bombs will let me *** are bombing jerry’s position. Outside Caen, Cleaned machine, Jerry mortar bomb landed on horses and blew them to bits, a nasty sight and this is called war. June 23rd D18 2 new D.Rs join us from England, went for eggs and milk from farms in exchange for choc* and sardines, did quite well, went to *Le Sandel*, 2 tanks shelled on my way back, but made it alright, this byke can move fast. Bed** quiet night. June 24th Sat D19th Early morn, on duty, Eggs and Saus* for Bfast. R.A.F out patrolling, day very hot. 2 lads slightly wounded. Reserves got most of it .went on new wire roads to miss getting shelled on Periers road. Bed 12.30. June 25 Sunday D20 Rough night, fighting going on, enemy shelling in large lumps, S.S.M* got panicky when tanks went out & gave stand to signal, CO. gave him hell, He is not fit for his job Hot again today, wish I was home. Shelled us again this afternoon. L.A.B machine hit & set on fire. Took padre on M/C Periers, quite a lad our padre. June 26th Monday D21 Slept in this morning rain during night it will keep the dust down, Got 2 letters this morning, Canadians are attacking, it will be our turn soon Heavy barrage going over I shall not be sorry to leave this part of the front. D Squad gave some Jerry guns the K.G. The 27th + 3rd Div are sure getting there, & their own back for Dunkirk*. Cherburg* is nearly in Yank hands. Things should begin to move in our sector now. June 27th Tuesday D21 Heavy Barrage from our side & we go into action. Jerry gave us a shelling at 9-12-&3* Started to rain, French girl took Nobbys & my photograph. One of our Typhoons jettisoned his petrol tank, it came down like a train & landed right on top of a scout car wrecking it. The whole place reeked of petrol & it’s a wonder it did not catch fire. Bed 11/30. June 28 Wed D22Our tanks went in again this morn 0500 hrs. things are not moving as fast as hoped for the first objective well on the way, Jerry is still shelling, Got new D R today, this should make it easier, Jerry knocked 6 of our tanks out with 88mm guns, the lads came off lucky, 2 officers killed & 1 trooper. 4 wounded 2 for blighty, artillery give Jerry a terrific barrage, he still lives however. June 29 Thurs D23 The battle has quietened down today. “A” squad knocked out 88mm gun, went to Anisey for milk Jerry landed a couple to burst in the air, but missed me, thank God. Rained heavily whilst I was out & I got soaked. The East Yorks took Chateau La landie. It was heavily fortified. June 30th ** D24 24th day in France, big attack going in shortly. C Squad have been commended for the work they did & the Brigadier said, there would have been no Cherbourgh if the 3rd Div & the 27th had not kept Jerry tied down round Caen. 1 Man killed by mortar fire. Early bed for a change. July 1st Sat D 25 Good night, Bomb dropped, I did not get up. Raining, nothing doing only routine work, early bed. July 2nd D26 Sunday Jerry shelling Gayelle & us today, Cloudy weather, Jerry kept up his barrage nearly all day, nothing much to report, early bed. July 3rd D27 Monday Raining, rough night, our guns having a go today, should know what mud is now, it takes me all my time to keep my byke up. Early bed. July 7th Frid D 31 The RWRs have winkled some Jerries out of gun emplacements last night, getting ready for big attack, weather is very sullen, I hope it hangs outs. Took Padre to Deterering to see Major Hydes grave & then to Plintote. C.C has been admiring Johnny’s Cross, got letters & paper from home, had bath in copper. We had the thrill of our lives tonight, the promised battle started with a hell of a raid on Caen , a 1000 bombers & the bombs going down is terrific. The sky is full of planes, the tanks are going in tomorrow. July 8th Sat D 320420 hours, the big attack has started, the Artillery opened with a terrific barrage that lasted an hour. It seems like all hell let loose. Tanks are in 1st objective taken by 6.15am, more bombers over. Artillery open up again, it is now 7.45pm Jerry is slinging shells at us, nearly all objectives taken.Galmanche La Bijude..Malon....Buron..La Folie Bitot Epron .Couvre - Chef....St Contest...........Prisoners rolling in.Snipers gave most trouble, Major Platt has been shot through the head with one, only tank got sniper, Caen is just about ours, we move up to Villers Le Buessions at 12 o/c. Sgt O Hara got run over by jeep. July 9th Sund D 33 Who would have guessed it was Sunday. John Lawton and Bert Broughton landed from England last night. Caen is ours, my shelter I made comfortable & now we are going to move, 25 PRs moves in & nearly blue me out of my skin when they let go, very tired, raining again. We have been ordered back Luc ser mer for a rest Thank God, I’m tired. July 10th Monday D 34 Did not get up until 10/30 am, got our little home ship shape, went to conference then went tatting with Charlie for parts (???). James Broughton came up today Poor old Mick is in England, as I am having to do his job as well. Bed 11/pm, letter from Dick Hodgsons wife.