22nd Dragoons - the 3 days to D-Day

Intro - 22nd Dragoons were first armour ashore on Sword beach. At the time Maj. Wheway was 2iC C Sqn and was part of the two troops reinforcing A Sqn for Sword Beach. Maj Clifford was OC A Sqn.

From diary of Maj. H.F. Wheway M.C.

June 3rd, 1944.
Timforce with 77 and 79 Sqn 5 A.R.E. embarked at Gosport at 20.00 hrs to invade France. Sailed at 23.00 hrs for Portsmouth where we anchored in the harbour. Vessels. - 18 L.C.T. Vs and 2 L.C.T. IVs.

June 4th, 1944.
Rough weather in straits. Still hove to in Portsmouth Harbour. H Hour postponed for 24 hours.

June 5th, 1944.
Rough weather still persists. No likelihood of conditions brightening. Understand that if we do not sail today invasion would be postponed 2 months. Hope we sail today, tension very high. Sail at 11.30 hrs. Immediately we undo our secret packages of maps and find out where we are to land. We surmise it will be somewhere near Ouistreham. Sleep is out of the question. All troops are very sick. Waves washing right over L.C.T.s. During night all our L.C.A.s are sunk in the heavy seas. All but the No.l of the ship's crew are also sick, and so we take reliefs at the helm. L.C.A.s were Hedgerows (rocket craft) manned by R.N.R. and Marines.

From the Diary of Maj. P.F.S. Clifford

Saturday 3rd June 1944
We move at 1445 – drew 48hrs landing rations plus some bully and fags which is a bit extra.
Little to do but stow gear and standby.
Moved at ten to three which gave a Rupert Brooke [illegible] to the show!
Uneventful journey except for a lot of marshalling and checking – AJAX cracked a plate on o/side track: we shall have to leave it.
Filled right up with petrol about 2 miles from hards.
Arrived 10 mins early.
Had a good load over (LCT 320) “Porpoises” T.B. doing it all without me being necessary at “long stop”. Whole craft loaded in 20 mins.
Orders to sail 0800hrs 4th.
Put to sea at 1900 to swing compass. Tanks chocked and chained as a SW wind outside and a choppy sea.
Newhaven always was a shocking crossing.
Turned round and put in again 1920 as sea too rough to make compass swing possible according to matelots.
Tied up in 4 banks alongside jetty, fixed camouflage nets over all and prepared meal.
Flails went on well and WDs deserve some credit as this is their first trip on a L.C.T. (which only gives 3 inches clearance to a Flail at the door end).
Slight drizzle coming in but clouds high and a little sun about 2015hrs. Wind SW.

Sunday 4th June 1944
0630hrs. Blowing from West and spray breaking over sea wall.
Standing by at 0800hrs til 1100hrs. When Ops postponed for 24hrs.
Fire, Abandon Ship and general drill tied up before lunch.
Sunny in afternoon and slept on deck til new compo packs arrived in Ducks and unloaded on me!
Everyone taken to J2 in T.C.Vs for a hot meal and bath. Herded about like valuable cattle! Hot meal alright but water ran cold. Did some washing of extremities and socks.
Counted 200+ Fortresses going out about 1900hrs.
Glass still falling – hear we hope to go again at 0800hrs tomorrow. Looks worse than last night but maybe the tail end of depression.
Lots of Craft running sing-songs on the Craft loudhailers – the trip to J2 and back has done us good but no mail.
D Day now Tues 6th June.

Monday 5th June 1944
Fine clear morning with fresh Westerly wind.
Moved out of harbour 0915hrs.
Anchored after compass swing at 1100hrs. But choppy.
Maps issued 1200hrs.
Moved 1230hrs – Op on.
Overcast and some wind.
H Hour 0725hrs tomorrow.
Steered southerly course into sea on starboard quarter – rolled a bit and some sickness – OK myself, maybe the pills took!
Turned West for meeting point (1445hrs) off I.o.W. Convoy looking rather a brave show – each craft with its balloon.
Brigadier in [illegible] wished us luck on loudhailer just before [illegible]
England out of sight by 1430hrs.

1930hrs. Due to turn South soon. Fighter cover good, mostly Typhoons, Lightnings and Spits.
Sea not so rough but still head on and a lot of spray over doors.
Clouds higher and a little more promising.

2015hrs. Lighthouse on [illegible] – arrive point I.o.W. just visible on Starboard beam.
Turning South and headed for La France!

2100hrs. 15 Destroyers, 4 Cruisers, 2 Battleships cross our bow!
Interesting stuff! I'm sure if many arrse members were 65 years older, 65 years ago today we'd've been in some of those ships heading for Normandy-if not in Italy or Burma-it sends a chill down the spine thinking about what those lads who were really there saw and did. Heroes all..
From the diary of Major P.S. Plowden who was the Second in Command.

June 3[SUP]rd[/SUP] 1933
On board an American L.S.T. (Landing Ship Tank). 13 Officers and about 100 men. We have two A.A. batteries on board. Lorries of the E.R.Y. (East Riding Yeomanry) etc. about 350 men and 70 vehicles.
We finished loading about 9.30 and we moved off down the Thames and anchored off Southend about noon.
Tremendous concentration of shipping mostly L.C.A., L.S.T. and transport ships and a few destroyers and every ship with two balloons up.
Glorious day – no sea, wind W.S.W.
American rations very good. Pure white bread which we have not seen since 1939 and was very much appreciated by the men and very good coffee.
Read, talked and slept most of the day – played stud poker with the captain and other U.S.N> Officers in the evening.
Turned in about 10.30 – fine night but wind freshening.

June 4[SUP]th[/SUP] 1944
Blowing very hard from the W.
Heard at 10 am that the landing which should have taken place at 7 am tomorrow has been postponed for 24 hours owing to weather conditions; most disappointing and we will not move from this anchorage before noon tomorrow.
Blew hard all the afternoon – many balloons carried away and one or two launches adrift.
Sea and wind started to drop at sunset and it started to rain at 10 pm – prospects more hopeful.
Played bridge most of the day. The only really good way of passing the time on board ship.
My small radio, which is worth anything, reports that we are 8 miles from Rome – not much resistance but hope that the Huns will spare the city.

June 5[SUP]th[/SUP] 1944
We moved today – huge convoy nearly 30 L.S.T’s guarded by destroyers and corvettes etc.
We sailed all day down the English coast – Ramsgate, Margate, Dover, Folkestone, Eastbourne etc.
Heavy sea running all day and we are all very doubtful if the invasion can take place tomorrow morning but towards evening the sea dropped and it became quite calm.
No Luftwaffe seen all day.
I overate all day and could not resist white bread, coffee and other good things supplied by U.S. Navy.

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