Gold Beach, 7:30 AM, Normandy, France
Royal Army Medical Corps, RAMC, 206th Field Ambulance
MEMORIES OF D DAY 6th JUNE
It is a long time ago, fifty eight years and five months. So much
has happened, so many things have changed, some good, some bad.
So many things you would have liked to change, so much you would
have liked to do. So much you have forgotten, but some things are
imprinted on your mind, you will never forget. A sudden glimpse
of a photograph, a voice with an accent, a face that reminds you
of other times and other folks.
I have just seen a picture of part of my life
many years ago, a proud ship flying U.S. colours, LST 293
she was my home for only a short time, a few days thats all,
but she and the men who sailed her will be forever in my thoughts
and my heart. We had spent months on the south coast, training,
doing a dozen times a day, exactly what we had been doing since
the start of hostilities, winding up bandages, fastening splints,
making figure of eight tension straps, assembling the
well known Thomas Splint invented to assist the
transport of badly wounded comrades, to keep shattered leg bones
from grating together. Very simply made with metal rods and so many
have derived benefit from this contraption as it was
often described as.
The only exciting part of training came with the
transfer of individual stretcher parties to train going out to sea
in assault craft, in my case LST 293. We used to load mock wounded,
9 stretchers plus 2 walking wounded, 7 across the sides of the DUKW,
plus 2 on the floor and 2 crouching below. I say exciting because
sometimes you beached, that was fine but sometimes you gained access
into LST 293 by revving up to full speed, half way up the bow ramp,
and quickly changed to road wheels. Those RASC boys were good, but
sometimes they misjudged it, and the DUKW slipped back into the
briny sea, and everyone got soaked AND scared out of your lives.
I have never met anyone who enjoyed it yet, but there must be some
idiot that liked it?
The south coast was teeming with lorries, tanks,
ships, men and dont forget women too, a great many of them
were there, doctors, nurses, telecommunications, drivers, back
up people. It was not just the military personnel, it was
everyone doing their part that made it a success, and dont
forget all the people at home, mothers and fathers, sweethearts
and wives, kiddies too. They all played their part and played it
well, so when we look back dont just think of the medal
adorned personnel, there were thousands of unsung heroes and
heroines in the background, it must have been the most ambitious
exercise ever undertaken in the whole of history.
We had been on the other side of hostilities e.g.
Dunkirk, the terrible retreats we experienced in Africa, this one
must be a success, it must be, and I feel that most people did a
wonderful job and under terrible starin, families separated, kiddies
without their mums and dads, the whole atmosphere was alien, but
we should feel proud of the sacrifices that were made and all with
We realised that June 4th came and went, June
5th just the same. Weather was atrocious. June 6th 1944 we are off,
so many many months of waiting, dreaming of what it would be like,
invasion on blackboards, on exercises, will we drown? Or just get
wet? Would a shell hit us before we land? Would there be few of
the enemy or would there be thousands of them? Would we cope with
the battle casualties we wont have sterile dressing rooms,
we will be on battle scarred sandy beaches. The training we had,
years of it, would it be able to cope with what we will meet? All
these questions became a reality as we approached the French coast,
we knew it would be very different with what we had been used to,
blue marking on pretend wounds, here we would have gaping shrapnel
wounds, anywhere on the body, loss of limbs, loss of sight, chest
wounds, stomach wounds, all these had been bad dreams in the past,
now they were only a few hours from reality. Im sure each
and every one of us as we neared the French coast, had similar thoughts
would we make it?
The spirit on board 293 was good no
matter what the inner fears were. The skipper thought up some special
date and ordered a meal, turkey, plum pudding plus ice cream. I
remember vividly a black cook in white shouting Hot stuff
carrying a tray of ice cream! he created a laugh, just what was
The sea was rough, I felt sorry for my comrades
in the smaller craft of which you could see hundreds, LCTs,
LCPs LCDDs, naval launches aircraft overhead, the sound
of the shelling ahead of us, and it was onlt 4-5 am. I remember
seeing the land as flashes lightened the sky. At approximately 7am
we were told to hold fast as we were going to ram the beach, and
so we did I didnt even get my feet wet! thanks to the
I was in charge of a stretcher party I told them
to wait for a flail tank (one with winding chains to blow mines
up) and follow it onto the beach. We followed one and Jerry hit
it! We scattered, two went one way, Sid and Roy. Unfortunately they
were killed. Bert and I made our way to the lea of the cliffs, and
with the help of other teams rigged up a rough dressing station
with tarpaulin and two wrecks of tanks conveniently burnt out near
the cliff, and so we set up business.
Most of the casualties Ive tried to forget,
most were unpleasant to administer aid to, God knows how the wounded
coped, but I hope some of the work we did was helpful. It wasnt
easy, with occasional strafing from aircraft and mortar bombs
coming fairly regularly. When our lads moved them out of range it
made our little dressing station more pleasant. And yet, do you
know? The tarpaulin cover gave some comfort and a feeling of security.
It must have been nearly mid day, we had had possibly
50, 60 wounded in our station and once we did what we could, enabling
them to be transferred to an LST that returned to Blighty. I was
one of the lucky ones, I travelled with the early ones. Conditions
were easier, we had an M.O. who gave instructions and we finally
discharged the wounded at Gosport, loaded up and turned around in
a couple of hours! Things were not too bad by that time on the beach.
One more trip, this time just to unload the tanks,
wagons of all descriptions, collect wounded and back this time to
Poole, and then I was recalled to my unit, 24th British General
Hospital, in a few days time, once mustered to strength, we proceeded
as a unit field hospital with equipment for 1200 beds, to outside
Caen, again only for a short period and acting mainly as an ADS
(Advanced Dressing Station). Things were moving very quickly, we
then set up near Bayeaux, remaining a few weeks doing more static
hospital work, holding wounded longer to enable better survival
during transit to the UK.
Back to Blighty! Seven days overseas leave in
Manchester - great!
Royal Army Medical Corps badge.
Ted Everett, a medic who like every veteran,
helped make a difference.
A tainted picture of vivid memories.