R.A.F. Units in D-Day landings on Omaha Beach

Discussion in 'NW Europe' started by DoctorD, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. stressed

    stressed Junior Member

    Doctor D / Les

    Fascinating story, and I mentioned on another thread to you that my father was attatched to the 309 coming ashore at Arromanches (well after D-Day) and ending up in Brussels then on to Hamburg. His diary has several initials that I can't find reference to, and indeed you used one yourself at the start of this thread namely BD section. What is that? He mentioned coming ashore in an LTTB, I thought they were LCTs. Also WFC means what?
    He too started at Blackpool, what did they do there and how long. Then he went on to Cranwell where he became an instructor for a couple of years before Chigwell, Old Sarum and Biscester (what was done at these units?)then Gosport.
    Trux has been amazingly helpful in answering some of my many questions just hope you can fill in some gaps!
    Just one more point, what is Advanced eschelon A?
  2. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    hi "stressed", sorry not to have come across your earlier posts, just haven't visited here lately as I've been very bust in liaising with Deeprespect the Mayor of Vierville sur Mer, the Paris British Embassy, Royal Marines Bands HQ, RAF Chaplaincy Service, etc., to pull together the necessary "assets" for a successful unveiling ceremony for a memorial that's to be dedicated to my fellow RAF Omaha Beach Radio/Radar Technicians of 21BDS and 15082GCI, Uwho lost their lives there on D-day. As the opening post on this thread indicates, I 've been striving now more than seven years to achieve this well overdue recognition and as today marks another addition to my advancing years, I need to make sure that all the stones are turned preparatory to the event. It's scheduled to take place overlooking Omaha Beach hopefully at 6 pm on 6th June 2012, but VIPs tend to be busy there around that date, so the precise timing resembles a diary jigsaw

    BDS = Base Defence Sector, R&R = Rest, Recovery, Recreaction, Rehabilitation, depending upon circumstances.

    309MSSU was under canvas in a field at Chesham, now a housing estate, when it was divided into three Echelons prior to moving in three phases into the Concentration area in the New Forest prior to embarkation. "A" Echelon comprised three accommodation ridge tents, each housing six bods, a 3ton Austin Workshop vehicle, a couple of 3 ton QL Bedfords, and 3 15cwt Bedford Servicing Workshop vehicles, occupying one LCT. We were scheduled to accompany 15082GCI as technical backup, but fate (lack of Bostik!) delayed our embarkation for 48 hours, which is why I 'm still here to tell the tale and to see that my old pals get due recognition.
  3. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member

    Great stuff in researching DoctorD's enquiry.
  4. lizjack

    lizjack Junior Member

    Very interested to see your map. I also have a copy of the same map. My father was a radar operator with 15053 Radar Unit. I found detailed information about the Unit, which landed on D Day +1, in Air Ministry records which are kept at RAF Hendon. I am currently writing them up for the grand children and would welcome information about the unit. Best wishes
  5. Peter Milbank

    Peter Milbank Junior Member

    Hi Andy

    I'm overwhelmed by your kindness. If I can ever be of assistance please do not hesitate to be in touch directly.

    I'll PM my home address and look forward to receiving a great deal of interesting information to wade through to occupy (what looks like :) ) the rest of my life!!

    Kind regards

    Dear Les and Andy.
    I am new to this site but would like to let you know that I was the person who left the map relating to GCI Unit 15053. I am in the process of preparing a book on the history this unit based upon some hundred of my fathers Wartime letters.
    He was the CO.
  6. pauldawn

    pauldawn Senior Member

    Hi guys,

    I also found it strange to find a Chief Technician (in modern parlance) on the strength of a lowly Mobile Signals Unit which, at best, would generally have had a Corporal i/c.
    Such MSU's were attached to GCI's to provide ground/air communications for Controllers to direct Fighters to targets. But there were many differing types of MSU's to cover varying operational requirements.

    I recall being called upon to fit airborne type VHF transmitter/receivers, just prior to the Rhine crossing, into some tanks of the 51st Highland Div for the commanders to communicate directly with strike aircraft.

    Whilst I'm here, for those still interested, I thought I'd post, as promised, the first of the many types of strange vehicles with which GCI's and Mobile Signals Units of 2nd TAF were equipped with for us to operate or work in, quite often to sleep in, and sometime to sleep under!

    In fact the 15cwt "Box" Bedford Workshop vehicle shown here is the actual one that I drove quite often; one memorable occasion being when I slept on its roof. The potential breakdown required one Wireless Mechanic (me, the only driver) and two Radar Mechanics, each of whom took turns to sit on the battery box between the driver and co-drivers seats on the journey from Brussels.

    With an overcast sky, we had taken shelter for the night by parking on the riverside road beneath the fly-over exit road of the destroyed river bridge close to badly damaged Cologne Cathedral. This type of servicing workshop van had a bench (complete with Vice) on each side upon which, as a last resort, we could sleep. But, with an extra man to accommodate, I drew the short straw to sleep on the roof.

    Awaking in some discomfort, not due to perspiration, but from rain having percolated through my bed roll, I was puzzled to see stars shining from a clearing sky through the shell hole in the road directly above our parking spot. (Who said we needed a jokes thread?) I spent the rest of the night uncomfortably seated on the fuel tank of the petrol-electric motor-generator set we carried between the two benches. I drew some wicked comfort from keeping the other two awake from the heat of the primus stove I had lit to dry myself out. (Elf ‘n’ safety be blowed!)

    Always remember the good times;)

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    Long time since i last posted here ... but Dr D ... were the MSU's using Humbers aswell?

    Ive just been told that Lac Maybray, by his grandson was also running around the countryside ina Humber.
  7. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi all, long time no Les!
    Been a bit busy, but the Memorial Plaque is there above the steps to Omaha Beach for all to see. Although the organisers decided a few weeks ago to settle for a brass plaque instead of the 5cm thick Granite originally intended, the size and inscription are virtually in accordance with my original design. The plaque is inset into a substantial purpose-built wall that is finished in sand and pebbles from Omaha Beach.
    The ceremony was hosted by the new Mayor, but the memorial was unveiled jointly by the (now Deputy) Mayor of Vierville sur Mer and Air Commodore J Maas (the Defence Attaché at Paris British Embassy) and consecrated by The Staff Chaplain of RAF at 18.30 on 6th June 2012, exactly 68-years after my mates died there. Strong winds and torrential rain ceased 20 mins before the ceremony and started again almost immediately afterwards. Family representatives from Canada, UK and France numbered forty-five, supplemented by around 250 others, including veterans from USA, Australia, Sweden, Netherlands and France, as well as the local populace. Everyone was provided with handouts in English or French, giving the Order of Ceremony, on the reverse side of which was a summarised history. Each family was provided with a bound 80-page souvenir booklet bearing the title "The D-day Story That Never Made the Headlines", copies of which, together with 50 copies of each of the handouts, were lodged earlier at the Visitors' Centre of the American Normandy Ceremony before the annual wreath laying ceremony took place there that morning. Apart from some stuff of my own, that I contributed to an earlier 2nd TAF publication, the souvenir booklet contains the verbatim testimonies of 15082 GCI survivors, all of which have appeared in my previous postings on this thread, but in a more comprehensive format, and provided at some time by the family members present. That is apart from one final testimony from the public domain that came my way recently and is included here in an addendum, in pdf format, to bring the booklet up to date.
    My thanks is due to you all for your help and encouragement throughout this project and, in particular, to Andy for the DVD he kindly contributed which I have now studied and turns out to contain the 209 pages of the Operation Record Books of 8024FDP and of the GCI Radar units 15053, 4, 5, and 6 all of which came under the responsibility of 307MSSU. It's a shame that the whereabouts of those of my own MSSU and the GCI's that came under our aegis remains a mystery.
    But my ultimate thanks is due to the French organisers of the week's events, The Deep Respect Association, whose volunteers raised the funds and contributed and arranged everything, except for my scripting of the dialogue and music used in the ceremony. Their website Home will soon include an account and photographs of the week's programme of events that they hosted for their veteran guests. Unfortunately, last minute domestic commitments obliged me to reduce my own attendance to just one and a half days. I wish finally to pay tribute to the exemplary commitment of the Defence Attaché who, having endured a prolonged torrential downpour in meeting the new French President an hour before our ceremony, arrived in his drenched No.1 Dress uniform with a smile and courteous handshakes and delivered his address in English and in impeccable French. Before driving back to Paris he mingled with the family representatives and local dignitaries at a post-ceremony reception (Vin d'honneur) where, having remarked that it was the first time an RAF Ensign had been flown over Omaha Beach, he formally presented the one used to the Mayor on a promise of its use on future occasions (although it was the only one that the Embassy possessed!).
    Warm regards to you all

    Attached Files:

    per_ardua and Owen like this.
  8. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Les - It was, as it always is, a pleasure mate.

    I think its safe to say, you can stand at ease-You've done your muckers proud ! :salut:
    per_ardua likes this.
  9. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Long time since i last posted here ... but Dr D ... were the MSU's using Humbers aswell?

    Ive just been told that Lac Maybray, by his grandson was also running around the countryside ina Humber.

    Sorry for delayed response Paul. Been a bit busy!

    I seem to recall our Squadron Leader C.O. on the main unit had a Humber Staff Car, but Commers, Austins, Bedfords, Crossleys, Thorneycroft were used for equipment and other transport.

    Thanks for your kind remarks, Andy.
  10. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I missed Dr D's post about the memorial at Omaha.
    Really great to see that & thanks for mentioning the forum.
  11. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi there all you guys
    Since that time of the year has come around again, with my 90's quickly approaching, when the selling of poppies in draughty locations, the dipping of Standards and the laying of wreaths at war memorials, in (hopefully) clement weather, becomes the duty of those of us oldies who are still capable of doing so, I thought a final visit to the thread to provide those interested with a link to a more recently created web site, where further detailed information is being posted, would be a useful closure to the thread that I started over four years ago, and to thank you for your constant, friendly and valuable support. Wow! What a long sentence!
    The site I refer you to is http://www.therafatomahabeach.com.
    Keep trying to remember the good times,
    Les :salut:
  12. englandphil

    englandphil Very Senior Member

    Les, good to see you back again, hope all is well.

  13. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thanks for your good wishes, Phil.
    Needing to curtail my RBL activities now, but glad I managed to see the 2nd TAF memorial erected on Omaha Beach just a few weeks prior to my massive heart attack. Just a pity it's in Brass and not the promised Granite, though. C'est la vie! I'm now just soldiering on at low key!
    Kind regards
  14. ted angus

    ted angus Senior Member

    You take care of yourself mate; you have done more than your duty throughout your life, your Service and with the RBL - keep warm and have a restful winter.
    Best Wishes
  15. Noel Burgess

    Noel Burgess Senior Member

    Les it has been wonderful reading your posts on this thread, and elsewhere on the forum. I look forward to reading many more contributions.
    Take Care
  16. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thanks fellows for your kind thoughts.

    Just to update you, The little 84-page A4 booklet that I compiled and handed out at the unveiling two years ago, seems to have found its way to RAF Command HQ PR & Video guys. They asked me what's going on at Omaha for the 70 th Anniversary as, having read my booklet, they thought it would be oportune to get US Media interested in what the RAF did for them on D-day.

    Picturing that Brass Plaque corroding itself alone and unattended amongst the plethera of US Memorials scattered there, I decided that the presence of probably the last RAF survivor laying a wreath there might be enough to catch their attention. So I decided a few weeks back to get on my bike (not literally, of course, but the 4-wheeled variety, with engine!).

    When I heard that a serving US Commanding General was unveiling a new staue a few paces from our Memorial I set about inviting him to Left Close a few paces to join me. Resulted in NBC, BBC and US Public Service channel heads up!! Downside is his unveiling is at 7am and then no accomodation left with 100 miles! Saved by kind offer from our French friend who provided the BRASS plaque (now forgiven) to accommodate my ex-RAF oppo,who's sharing the driving, and me in his house! We're arriving on 4th June and departing on 8th, so working on a full itinerary. Will keep you all posted here. Maybe see some of you if I post my final program (got to use the Yank spelling!). Wish us sunshine and a bit of luck.

  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  18. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Les - There is no finer D-Day vet than you. FACT !
  19. questor

    questor Junior Member

    Have really enjoyed reading all the posts on this forum. My grandfather served as a Driver Mechanical Transport in the RAF and from his service record I can see he was posted to Renscombe Down in March 44, then onto Chigwell a month later. In May '44 he was assigned to AMES 14039 and I know anecdotally that he was in Normandy a couple of days after D-Day. The Operations Record Book of 24 Wing, 85 Group, has his unit (now part of 15129 COL) stationed at Bouflet (?) in August '44. But the trail ends there. I know, again second-hand from my own father, that he was in Holland towards the end of the war, but that's about it. The photos on this forum have enabled me to visualize the kind of trucks he might have driven and that's been great. But I'd love to know more, if anyone has any suggestions they would be gratefully received.
  20. AndyBecket

    AndyBecket New Member

    Greetings all - I've just discovered this forum... My father - Gerald Becket - served with FDP 15053, and went to France on D-Day+1. My name is Andrew Becket, my e-mail address is: Andrew.becket@btinternet.com
    I have some 15053 memorabilia that I'd love to discuss, and perhaps find a worthwhile lasting home for...?

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