D day Tuesday 6.6.44
It has happened at last. Heard first rumours at 8.0am. Much evidence of restrained excitement. We are not affected… yet! Apart from numerous “Lightnings”, saw little evidence of “second front” during day. This evening saw amazing procession of aerial “tugs” & gliders, all heading S. Several waves of them, many dozens in all. An inspiring sight. Weather fine, but fairly cloudy: breezy. Heard radio 9.0pm… King’s speech. Sounded like an address by the Archbishop. News later confirmed success of landings: fighting 10 miles inland at “Caen”. P.M. addressed Commons twice. Eisenhower broadcast to France. Wrote to Jess.
D +1 Wednesday 7.6.44
Half day cancelled. More work on vehicle – sealing. Saw film “Tunisian Victory” this morning: very good. Much aerial activity today: waves of “Libs” and Forts this evening. Everyone seems quite cheerful… probably glad to have reached end of deadlock. Learned today that we are scheduled for France but when? Can’t be long now. Letter from Jess; wrote to Jess, & Garsden. Weather fine, but fairly cloudy. Stiff breeze.
D +2 Thursday 8.6.44
Still progressing in France. Spent the day on final sealing. Pay parade – later handed in all cash except 10/=. Lecture by Capt Link, illustrated with French maps.
Weather fine, but rather dull – strong breeze. Not too good for landing craft. Letter to & from Jess.
D +3 Friday 9.6.44
Still sealing tanks. Yesterday’s cash return re-paid in Francs + an extra £1’s worth. (200 to £1) Weather terrible. Rained most of morning – but after lunch there was a deluge, continuing until evening. Streets and fields flooded afterwards. Heaven help the invasion forces if we have much similar weather. Practically no signs of aircraft all day: must be grounded. Latest invasion news satisfactory. Bayeaux taken yesterday, & advances practically everywhere. Caen still held by enemy. Appears to have some armoured stuff there.
Letter from Jess – letter to Jess. Phoned Jess 5.0pm. Heard her voice: lovely thrill.
D +4 Saturday 10.6.44
Sealing completed: we are ready. Weather much better: only a light shower: soon over. Much air activity today – more cheerful sign. O.C.’s lecture after lunch – behaviour, discipline etc overseas. Billet cleaning preparatory to departure…. when?
All confined to barracks from 8.0am. Saw Mrs. Lubick & Mrs. Cove. Lucky husbands! Bought a kettle (Mrs Cove paid & refused my cash!) Expect this will be darned useful.
Evening: C.B. ban lifted. Tomorrow, Sunday routine. Are we going Monday? Letter from Jess & Dorothy.
Canteen for supper. Heard 9 o’clock news. Still progressing. British and Americans now made contact: 20 mile continuous beachead. Still fighting for Caen. Enemy reported retreating disorderly in Italy. Good. Wrote to Jess.
D +5 Sunday 11.6.44
This morning we were given a couple of hours to write our last letters… from this side. Scribbled a hasty note to Jess: but how inadequate were my few words. It is so difficult to say what is in your heart without causing grief. But she will understand. Also wrote a short note to Dorothy. Would have liked to write Kath & Tod & Marjorie, but there was no time.
All tank crews issued with more new clothing during the day: viz suit of one-piece denim per man, 2 shirts, 2 drawers, 2 pair socks – Surely we have too much clothing now! Some have already started bartering shirts for socks etc. Likewise, many fellows have now spent all remaining English money… & are now selling their Francs! If we don’t go soon, there will be a few bloated capitalists in the squadron with thousands of Francs: the rest will be bankrupt.
Noticed a more hysterical atmosphere this morning: particularly among the younger fellows. I s’pose they are blowing off steam. This delayed departure is getting us worked up. But things are moving now.
This evening, a few “A” tanks moved out… witnessed by many civilians. The watching troops treated this departure hilariously, but the civvies looked very grim – almost strained, particularly the women. No mistaking their anxiety. Our turn tomorrow, maybe. We are now strictly confined after 10.30 this evening. Better to go anywhere than remain here penned up. Went to the Y.M.C.A. free cinema after tea… 6 “shorts”. Heard the 9 o’clock news later at Y.M.C.A. Still making progress. Record landings in Normandy today. Monty’s message sounds optimistic. Front now 50 miles. Still meeting armour at Caen. Situation in Italy still fine: Germans retreating rapidly. We now hold Pescara.
Weather today mild & fairly cloudy. One or two light showers. Not too good for aircraft over there. Letter from Jess “I will not be sad:- I have prepared myself for this greatest trial of all.” I will remember her words… so brave – so sensible… so re-assuring. And my heart will sing to her closing words – “I love you so much” – as I shortly approach “the valley of the shadow..” I don’t think I can possibly hear from her again until I reach France.