"Historic Memory"

Ex_Matelot

Midshipman
"A Historic Memory from Bob Shrimpton"
Now Deceased

JUNE 1944

When approaching 80 years of age, memories, dates, names begin to fade, but the events of that first week in June 1944 are indelibly printed on my mind and will never fade.

We sailed from the Clyde and headed south into the Irish Sea from every port, river, bay and inlet, troop transports, supply vessels, tugs towing lines of landing craft, moved out and formed up in convoy lines. HMS Belfast, Flag Ship of the Cruiser Squadron had the responsibility to keep all these ships on station. It was a Herculean task.

That evening the Captain spoke to the crew, this was normal procedure, to inform the crew of our objective, and what to expect. Then came his words "The invasion of Normandy" our task was bombard the shore defences and installations, and to land our troops on those beaches, and to give them the best chances of success.

That night the violent storm hit us, high winds and seas forced the convoys to reverse course, a very difficult manoeuvre, the destroyers and corvettes had to shepherd the transports, landing craft and supply ships to try and keep station and ride out the storm.

The crew of HMS Belfast, many of us 19 and 20 years of age, were considered battle hardened; we had served on Arctic Convoys and the Battle of North Cape with the subsequent sinking of the "Scharnhorst.
As we looked at the troops being tossed around in landing craft, others crowded on open decks on the transporter, cold, wet, scared and probably violently seasick these were men who very soon have to storm those beaches. We prayed for them.

When dawn broke on the 6th of June, the naval ships crept into the Normandy coast and anchored.

Then the bombardment began. It was awesome, battleships, cruisers, monitors, destroyers; all with their specific targets pounded the beach defences relentlessly.

As we lifted the bombardment to targets inland, the landing craft went in, troops leapt into the waves and moved up the beaches like lines of ants. All day the landing craft plied back and forth ferrying more troops and supplies.
Sometimes some would come alongside Belfast to unload severely injured men, including German troops, our surgeons treated them all with the same skill and compassion. Overhead the sky was filled with squadrons of fighters, bombers and aircraft towing troop gliders.

After three days of continued bombardment Belfast sailed back to Portsmouth to re-ammunition.

We had fired over 2,000 shells on enemy targets, our lockers were empty, but our troops were ashore.

I am very proud to have been part of that historic operation.
Bob Shrimpton "Ping" Higher Submarine Detector HMS Belfast 1942-1946

Ex Matlot
 

jesse650

War Hero
outstanding....it must have been a sight to see the full might of the Royal Navy focused on two or three beaches......not forgetting the boys in light blue and green doing thier stuff as well.......no wonder it stayed fresh in his mind
 
Thanks for that older vets have seen a lot of sights that us lot will never ever see again -- we hope!!!

Was a war baby heheh!! Did 27 years in the andrew mainly in Submarines -- great life.
 

SILVER_FOX

War Hero
Re A Historic Memory from Bob Shrimpton. I love this kind of first hand account stuff. Can't read enough of it and I encourage my boy to read it too - lest the risks and sacrifice be forgotten!

SF
 
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