6th June 1944: D-Day

About 2am heard the sound of many ‘planes warming up at Wormingford, but soon went to sleep.  Woke soon after 3 to a tremendous roar, and looked out to see the whole sky filled with ‘planes, all carrying their navigation lights, dropping red and green flares in every direction.  Just before 4 the Boxted aerodrome lights came on, and all the Thunderbolts took off in pairs in a series of shattering roars, coming up over the house and flashing away to the S.W.  The sky was just a mass of gleaming lights of all colours, and the house trembled with the vibration of thousands of engines.  The moon, nearly full, shone on fleecy clouds in the west, and there were dark rain clouds drifting away to the North.  Have never known the Americans to take off before dawn, so guessed this must be something big, and was not surprised to hear on the 8 o’clock news that there had been heavy raids on Calais and Dunkirk and that British naval forces were off Le Havre, while the Germans had announced that landings were being attempted both by sea and air.

And so comes what we were promised was to be the great climax of the whole war, when the great allied armies are to storm “Hitler’s fortress” and “liberate starving Europe”.  But where is the excitement we were promised?  And the hardships?  We were told that on “D-Day” every road would be shut, all trains stopped, no buses, and everybody living under siege conditions.  Yet all is just as it was yesterday – buses running, trains running, soldiers marching out to training, little children going to school, prostitutes popping in and out of the house in Military Road.  At the office, hardly a mention of this great “final” battle, except to remark on the noise of ‘planes during the night, and say wisely “Ah! As soon as I heard them, I knew it was the invasion.”

No troop movements here, but some bren carriers were coming into the town soon after midnight, when one blew up just on the Borough Boundary, by Skipping Street, completely destroying two houses on the east side of the road, and breaking a lot of windows.  The driver was killed, but nobody else was hurt.

Went out to Horkesley at 6, to see the sugar beet competition.  Just beginning to rain, but there was a good show, in a field at Potter’s Farm, belonging to Alec Page.  Work began at 7, and went very well, while bombers and Thunderbolts roared overhead on their way to Normandy.  One huge flight of Thunderbolts came over from Raydon.  Rain began harder, and when it was all over we went into the farmhouse and had beer and whisky, after which the Chairman gave the prizes, and made a rousing speech, all about what a great day this was, etc.
Went along to the Observer Post at 9, for another 4 hours training.  Am doing very badly.  Felt terribly nervous, and wondered if there was likely to be a raid tonight.  Weather got worse, but still planes came back from France, and the aerodrome lights were on.  Some ‘planes landed with headlights like motor cars.
The Wormingford road was opened again this morning.

Rain got worse after 1am and was thankful to get into bed by 2 o’clock, tired out.


Anonymous said...


How interesting that ER was somewhat let down by events!
Of course with hindsight we know that the government had to prepare the nation for what we would now refer to as the 'worst case scenario'! Thankfully, it wasn't needed.

Once again, a fascinating insight to how the war was for some people at the time.

Mike Dennis

Anonymous said...

This was my 14th birthday and although we welcomed the news of the invasion of Europe {realising it would hasten the end of the war],it brought anxiety for our house. My brother {aged 19} ,. 2425was in the Reconnaisance Corps and there had been a ban on writing home for the Forces so we didn't know if he was overseas or still in England. To cheer my mother up, my aunts clubbed their rations together and brought her a quarter of a pound of tea, which helped no end