New D-Day diary and photos, CSM D E Gray MM

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by paulcheall, Nov 26, 2014.

  1. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    I have just posted some material on my web site - the excellent Normandy daily diary of Sergeant Douglas E Gray MM, sent in by his son, Douglas. What amazing reading they make, together with pics of not just Normandy, but Sicily and N Africa aswell. Douglas was in the 7th Green Howards and landed on Gold Beach, with what I think would have been the second wave and a very a hairy time.

    There are also some very good poems that he wrote just waiting for someone to publish! The diary is at

    He also writes about his MM exploit without realising he would get an MM for it. Included is the subsequent citation and copies of Synge's {book} record of events.


    Thanks Paul

    Attached Files:

  2. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Hello Paul,

    The diary link isn't working (for me). Could you please re-insert the link?!?

    Edit: Found this link to it on your blog:link:

    The 7th Bn Green Howards were in the first wave, but were the reserve battalion. The 6th Bn Green Howards were scheduled to land on King Green between H+5 and H+20 (mainly) and the 7th Bn were scheduled to follow them onto King Green at H+45 (mainly).


    Mike L likes this.
  3. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    Douglas Gray's diary from D-Day+ is outstanding.

    I haven't finished reading it all yet but it is an amazing first hand account of the events following D-Day.

    It reeks of the occasional boredome, regular pressure on units and lack of sleep and reinforcements.

    Thanks for posting it Paul, I hope to see some more of your Grandfather's recollections. Thanks Steve Mac for posting the new link.
    Steve Mac likes this.
  4. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Many thanks Steve - now corrected - I didn't realise was case sensitive. And thanks for the clarification re role of 7GH.
    All the best
  5. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Thanks Mike L - glad you enjoyed it - I thought it was superb and especially liked the fact that it was so detailed. Will let Doug Gray's son know people are enjoying it - nay will send him the link!
  6. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I agree, Mike. Douglas didn't like the boredom of the static warfare and futility of losing his remaining mates in a War of attrition. The constant sleep deprivation did nothing for his humour either.

    Douglas had served with the 7th Bn Green Howards right through from the BEF to 'The Island'. What a magnificent prize it would have been if he'd kept a diary right through - BEF, Western Desert (Gazala, 2nd Battle of El Alamein, Wadi Zigzag, Wadi Akarit, Operation Husky/Sicily, and from August 1944 - the pursuit, Operation Market Garden, The Island, etc.

    Well done, Paul. Keep up the good work...


  7. Legion Etrangère

    Legion Etrangère Active Member

    Thank you Paul for sharing Douglas Gray's D-Day diary with us! It is outstanding!

    Does his diary also contain his experiences at Dunkirk, North Africa and Italy?
  8. Since he was in an LCT(A) together with Centaurs of the RMASG, he was scheduled to land at H Hour, i.e. in the first wave, together with the AVRE and Flails and right after the DD tanks. He does says so himself:

    "We’re supposed to land at ‘H’ hour, but we’ll be two hours late owing to the weather."

    His LCT was either LTIN 2415 or 2417. I'll try and find out which exactly, as well as the hull number.

  9. Everything points to CSM Gray being on board LCT(A) 2236 (LTIN 2417), which landed her two Centaurs of 'C' Tp, 1 Bty, 1 RM Armd Sp Regt at 0850 on KING Sector (planned H Hour, KING GREEN Beach) on D Day.
    She was also carrying six Carriers, Universal, three each from 6 Green Howards and 7 Green Howards

  10. DouglasAlan

    DouglasAlan Member

    Legion Etrangère, Bonjour
    My father's diary only came to light after his death, in 1991, discovered at the back of his writing desk. He often had anecdotes and stories about his time in the desert, which I remember from when I was young to early teens. After that he reminisced less and less. He hadn't mentioned his diary. I don't believe anything was overlooked from his belongings, so no North African details etc. but it was my mother who cleared them. She was distressed, in later life, about the effects of the war and, in particular, the fact that the French had surrendered so quickly (her opinion, not mine). She blamed them for taking five years out of her life. Not surprisingly, she was disappointed that I chose to retire to France!
    Glad you found the diary interesting..I know most of it by heart now
    Best regards
    Sussex by the Sea and dbf like this.
  11. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Hi and sorry for not replying to this post earlier but I must have missed it. I suspect you will know by now that the entire diary is online so other theatres of battle are not included such as Dunkirk and N Africa. The most recent entry in this section comes from Douglas, son of Douglas, so no doubt if he finds anymore hidden diaries at home that will be it! Thanks to all for their input and feedback; it helps to know someone is reading this stuff.

  12. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Michel I am fascinated as to how you worked out the exact craft Doug was in. I think I have a list of the craft involved but nothing which tells me exactly which one my own Dad would have been on (C coy, 6 Green Howards, King Green, 07:25h, 6 June). Would be grateful for any more info you have. Funny, such an indescribably minute detail of no interest to anyone but me - call me a train spotter if you like but I've found the more I learn about Dad's war the more I want to learn!
  13. Paul,

    Unfortunately precise information on the LCA is much more difficult to get than on the LCT. However, if you father was 'C' Coy, he was supposed to land indeed on KING GREEN, but at H+20 mins, together with 'D' Coy. The main assault forces of 6 GREEN HOWARDS were loaded as follows:

    Assault Infantry (A & D Coys)
    G66 Empire Mace LTIN 2433-2437 (5 LCA)
    G65 Empire Lance LTIN 2438-2442 (5 LCA)

    Reserve companies (C and B Coys)
    G66 Empire Mace LTIN 2458-2462 (5 LCA)
    G65 Empire Lance LTIN 2463-2467 (5 LCA)

    From the War Diary of 6 GREEN HOWARDS:

    A,B,C,D Coys and BHQ safely aboard the L.C.A's made their hazardous dash
    for the mainland in a sea that did not favour a landing so important, whilst
    Allied cruisers and destroyers heavily engaged enemy shore batteries.
    A and D Coys being the fwd Coys, assaulted the beach between Map Ref 910869
    and 918868. A Coy attacked the highly fortified strongpoint at 914868
    and D Coy attacked the heavily concreted gun positions in area MONT FLEURY
    Map Ref 917863. The storming of both these enemy positions was highly
    successfuland the Bn: suffered surprisingly low casualties.
    The reserve Coys (C and B) followed the landing of A and D Coys.
    B Coy moved to area 908863 and attacked enemy posns, clearing a quarry
    en route occupied by the enemy.
    C Coy moved with little opposition to area of Pt 52 Map Ref 904850
    the Bn re-organising area.

    Since Empire Mace and Empire Lance each carried eighteen LCA, it might prove arduous to find out exactly from which craft your father landed, unless you have some additional detail such as the name of some of the craft crew.

    Another lead could be the Battalion Landing Table for 6 GREEN HOWARDS, if we can find it, which might list in which craft each platoon was.

  14. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Thanks so much for all this Michel - superb! Great to have the map refs because next time I go I can pinpoint the precise landing spot although I think I have a good idea. There is an exit point off the beach which leads to what is a rebuilt tram stop shelter that Stan Hollis VC shot up, though I suspect the modern day location is slightly different - not sure on this. Anyway, I have worked out from stuff I read that on Green beach A company was to the right and D coy to the left, with B and C respectively behind them - would you agree with that? Dad was on Empire Lance so that somewhat narrows down the LCA he might have been on. Is the War Diary source you refer to the actual daily diary kept by the battalion? I do think I have that so will have to look for it - I have so much stuff to read it's untrue!
    Merci beaucoup Michel.
  15. Yes, that's correct. So your Dad was in one of the five LCA LTIN 2463-2467 planned to land opposite CARPET, just West of the road starting from 918868 and going south towards MONT FLEURY. Pity I don't have the equivalence with hull numbers for these serials.

    Yes again. The June War Diary has kindly been put online by ramacal here:

    However, there might be Appendices not uploaded there, such as, precisely, the invaluable detailed Landing Table for the battalion, which might also have been kept elsewhere, maybe in the Brigade War Diary, not necessarily in the May or June folder, so that's a few Diaries to look for.

    This is the exit then (with LAV PAN Villa visible in the background top centre):
    GOLD LAV PAN.jpg

    and now (Herbage des Prés, changing its name for avenue Franklin Roosevelt further inland):
    Looking South
    KING RED - KING GREEN Limit.jpg

    LAV PAN Villa is still there, now surrounded by new houses. Seen looking South (now No.1 rue Claude Debussy in Ver-sur-Mer):
    LAV PAN now 1.jpg
    Looking Northwest (just right of No.3 avenue Franklin Roosevelt):
    LAV PAN now 2.jpg

  16. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Hi Michel
    So sorry it's taken me a while to reply to your last post but I have been busy and there was a lot to take in. I am now working on a page for my web site dedicated to Gold beach and hope to incorporate most of the above in the not too distant future. Regarding the pictures you sent, what does LAV PAN mean in relation to the Villa? And is that the famed house with the circular drive? What is the reference to the CARPET? Is this an even smaller descriptor below Gold/ King/Green - quite amazing. When I last went to Gold beach I thought Dad's C Co landed just to the East of the exit point, but I think you are suggesting just to the West.. Funnily enough I did pick up a large stone from the westerly point as a souvenir. Also got some sand in a souvenir jar which I bought from one of the souvenir shops in Arromanches. Thank you for the photos. I can see I have a lot more research to do on this subject! I do have some good books but of course the challenge is to piece the smallest bits of information together to make the whole.
    Many thanks again Michel.
  17. LAV PAN was indeed the nickname (not an official codeword) given to the villa because of the shape of the circular drive...

    CARPET was the codeword for Target Map Reference 918869, identified as comprising at least two pillboxes, one at the end and just East of the road/exit and one by the hedge just West of the road. So CARPET actually straddled the end of the road, and the map ref is only an indication.

    The official planned landing location was on KING GREEN Beach (i.e. to the West of the road), and A & D Coys did report landing West of the road (between MR 910869 & 918868), so B & C Coys probably also landed West of it. However, it is possible that during the actual landing some LCA of the two companies on the left (D then C) might have beached on the left (East). Maybe your Dad's Memoirs can provide some hint about this particular point.

  18. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Hi Michel
    Thanks for all that info. I've just finished my tax return so can devote some time to sending a reply. I've had conflicting views as to which side of Gold Beach Dad landed upon but I can't find the previous reference to it right now. Anyway, included in these pics are views of both sides of the beach when I visited last year. Of course when Dad landed the tide was not in so I've made a mental note to visit early morning next time I go! I did laugh when I learned what LAV PAN meant - I thought it was some official code word, not a ref to the shape of the drive! I think the house in question is shown on pic 2 of my selection. Dad's memoir doesn't throw any further light on the subject.

    I read that when Stan Hollis shot up the tram stop shelter he later grabbed his gun at the wrong end and it was still hot so he burned himself quite badly on it!

    Kind regards


    PS just noticed I annotated the East/West labels on the beach pics wrongly - should be the other way around. Thank goodness the troops got it right in 1944!
    4jonboy likes this.
  19. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Nice photographs, Paul.

    That first one made, both, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and me shivver.

    I just looked at it again, same result!


  20. paulcheall

    paulcheall Son of a Green Howard

    Ha! Pleased to hear that Steve. I've got a bucket load of pics to post up from my visit. Here's another pic of the Crepon statue further inland. Another of just one of the name plaques on said statue showing names of LS Rufty Hill and Major Honeyman amongst others.


    Attached Files:

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