This is from the diary of Major (then Captain) H.F. Wheway MC. My copy is from the 22nd Dragpoons Old Comraddes Association although both the handwritten version and a transcript are now available fromthe Imperial Ear Museum in London. June 6th, 1944. D DAY Reveille 05.00hrs Troops still very sick and much too ill to feel excited. It was quite an effort to get them on their feet, and none desired breakÂ¬fast. Dry land dead or alive seemed to be all that mattered. 0630 hrs. H.M.S. Rodney and accompanying Cruisers, Destroyers and Rocket Ships open fire off French Coast. Some rockets fall short and hit L.C.T.s. 0700 hrs. We are looking for our gapping places through glasses. Houses on the sea front seem untouched by aircraft bombing and naval shells. There is ominous yellow stillness the whole length of the shore. Enemy coastal batteries now open on us, several L.C.T.s are hit and we pass one destroyer sinking. The L.S.T.s have put down their L.C.A.s and the infantry are heading for the shore in there; The seas are heavy and toss them about like corks. The noise is terrific. 0710 hrs. The D.D.s are floated, but owing to rough seas one by one they sink. We then realise it will depend on the flails to give the close support fire. We get into our tanks and seal down the hatches. 0720 hrs. The L.C.T.s go full speed ahead and it is a race for the shore. We land at 07.25 hrs and the impact nearly shoots the tanks through the doors. The flails stream out in 3 feet of water, followed by the A.V.R.E.s. We are met by terrific shell, mortar and 88mm and 75 AP and small arms fire at 300 yds range. The L.C.T. with our C.O. Lt. Col. Cocks, 5th A.R.E., is hit and the bangalores go up. Leading flail on the ship manages to get off, but Cpl Brotherton is killed, and crew wounded of the second, and also Lt. Col. Cocks killed. (Queen, White, Robertson). Several tanks are hit as the landing craft doors go down. Mines sighted on top of the wooden beach obstacles. We go as far as possible in the water to be able to use our guns effectively, and then open fire on concrete gun emplacements, houses and dug-in inÂ¬fantry. Tanks are brewing up right and left. We then proceed flailing our gaps, but no mines are encountered so speed up, and get within 50 yds of our gapping places, and open fire right into the slots of gun emplacements. One flail tank strikes a sunken obstacle with a mine on it and the bottom is blown in, Cpl Snowsill's sinks. Lt Robertson's has a direct hit on the flailâs arms , breakÂ¬ing them off. Lt Allen has 3 88mm AP straight through into the turret, and all but Cpl Pummall are killed. Wounded and burnt Pummall succeeds in getting into the sea, and is picked up by a L.C.A. Cpl Agnew's tank has 3 AP through the engine, and brews up. Tpr Jennings is wounded in getting the hatch undone. An 88 mm AP goes straight into the front of Sgt Cochrane's tank killing the operator Tpr Kemp, and wounding Sgt Cochrane, Tpr Mackinnon. Some flails now start gapping and the East Yorks and the S. Lancs are now streaming up the beach covered by fire from the beach clearing flails. The AVREs follow the flails and the bridging AVREs dropped their bridges, the crews jump out to make them fast and in doing so are killed, or wounded, and the tanks receive direct hits, and are brewed up. German soldiers rush from the houses shouting and firing ,as they come and soon the beach is strewn with the dead and wounded, of our own and enemy troops. The beach clearance flails are now waiting for the 629 R.E.s to assist them in clearing the beach. Capt Wheway and Lt Sadler get out of their tanks and attempt to contact them. Shells and mortars are falling thick and fast, but no one realises the danger of them until Tpr Hogg is killed by his tank. A Lt. of 629 is eventually found and he states he is the only officer left, and their casualties are so heavy they cannot assist us, so clearance flails proceed up the beach and commence gapping defences wherever they can to clear the congestion on the beach. Sgt Turner and Cpl Aird returned to the beach after having successfully made their gaps and flailed their laterals, and small arms and shell fire is still intense, and both Sgt Turner and Cpl Aird are killed by sniper's bullets. After 2 hrs fierce fighting enemy resistance is wiped out, and the lanes are made, and the laterals are clear, and the surviving flails are back on the shore. We gather these between 2 houses where there are numerous weapon trenches and tunnels running under the houses, and on searching these got 20 P.W. s, some from under the tanks. H +3 Â½ 27th Armd Bde ( 2 Sqns 13/18th, Staffs Yeo, E.R.Y) with Maj Clifford and Capt Barraclough landed, also S.P.s, R.A.M.C., and the Suffolks, Lincolns, R.U.R.s and K.O.S.B.s. The beach is now only 25 yds wide with high tide and the congestion is terrific, and the flail crews were kept busy keeping the lanes clear and directing the landing troops on to the centre line. The whole area is still being heavily shelled and mortared from enemy positions 2 miles inland. By this time the armour is fighting its way forward with the infantry, and at H + 5 the beaches are reasonably clear with the exception of burnt out tanks and wreckage. Available flails are gathered together, and proceed with the ERY and flail the assembly area. Only 11 out of 26 flails are fit to go on. We are then warned by Commando's officer that 300yds up the road is an anti-tank gun which has already knocked out 4 AVREs and that his Coy is withdrawing having nearly been wiped out. It is impossible to get tanks into a position to get at this gun because of large minefields and houses. We then forked left through assembly area and contacted Brigadier Prior-Palmer, 27 Armd Bde, to assist in going forward with 13/18th to take over from 6th Airborne on the Ouistreham canal. This was not possible as fierce fighting was taking place round Hermanville. We were told to take up positions and be prepared to fight to the last. Snipers were very active and Spandau bursts from the left flank kept us well under cover. As dusk falls we go into close harbour with 1 Coy of Lincolns between us and the enemy on our right flank, the left flank being an unknown quantity. It was not until 5 days later the village on our right was cleared by 51st H.D. We hold a check on our casualties and find we have 5 tanks knocked out, 5 missing, and 5 still on the beach under Lt. Mundy, who was still being troubled with snipers and was attempting to get his tanks going again, some having assemblies blown off and some with tracks broken. That night they were heavily bombed by the enemy aircraft and having set up AA posts gave good accounts of themselves. Killed - 9, wounded - 8, missing - 25. Enemy guns knocked out 10 x 75 and 88 mm, 2 x 50 mm. Gen. Rennie 3rd Brit. Div. Commander congratulated the flails on the magnificent show they had put up and stated that if it had not been for them he doubted if the landing would have succeeded on this strongly held front, which was so vital to the whole operation, being the strongly held left flank. Meanwhile the AVREs had distinguished themselves and with ll tanks 79 Sqn succeeded in getting the bridge at Ouistreham. 77 Sqn also successfully battling forward with only 4 tanks left. Their casualties were extremely heavy, somewhere in the region of 70% tanks and 60% personnel; they were extremely brave men.