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Royal Navy considered as reinforcements on Omaha Beach

Vesper

Lantern Swinger
Hi, I've managed to trace my grandfathers shipmates from World War Two, my grandfather served on one of the V&W Destroyers, HMS Vesper. He was just offshore from Omaha Beach during D-Day. I was able to meet one of his shipmates and conduct an interview with him to find out what exactly happened. Thought you might find this quite interesting.

Interviewer & George

Interviewer= Me

George = Radar mechanic, HMS Vesper, 6th June 1944.

Interviewer classed as I & George as G:

G: He doesn’t say anything about going over on D-Day?

I: What happened on D-Day? You were on Omaha Beach I understand?

G: That’s right yes, ah that’s funny quite a story, when we went over it was dark, pitch black, all we could see in front was lights, we were at the back of the convoy, we were last. We were all sitting there, I was off watch, I was up on B gun deck. Suddenly it got light, it wasn’t a bloody convoy it was a bloody minesweeper. Us being last, if a minesweeper missed one, we’d cop it. You’ve never seen anything like it, everyone up on deck with their life jackets running back and forth.

I: So you were in the middle of a minefield?

G: Yes, we were in minefields. But we thought we were in a convoy because of all the lights and things, we thought we were in the back of the convoy.

I: You were meant to be following a convoy then but you followed minesweepers?

G: They were doing the minesweeping, and if they missed any we’d cop it, because of her being an old ship, 1917. Had two funnels but took one out and put oil tanks in so we could do convoys across the Atlantic. Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to do it.

I: Was it a mistake for you to be in that minefield because I heard that they deliberately put the Vesper there to act as an expendable force because she was an old ship.

G: That’s right yes.

I: So you were in the right location? You were meant to be following the minesweepers?

G: We didn’t know it, the Skipper did, but he never told us, we thought it was the bloody end of the convoy. Until it got light, then we suddenly found out what we were doing. They were going through and if they missed we’d cop it because we were on an old ship. It frightened the life out of us.

I: I thought for a moment you may have lost position or something.

G: Oh no, when it was daylight the minesweepers went and we went further in, and of course you’ve got all the bombardment going on, and then while we was there, the Yanks couldn’t hold it. They couldn’t hold the beach because they was taking a pounding. Word came round, every other man, there was a hundred and eighty, they wanted ninety to go ashore on a raft. They wanted us to go ashore.

I: With the Americans?

G: With the Americans, if we had gone ashore, we’d have gone with them and become the Army.

I: Alright, so you would have been like the Royal Naval Division in World War One?

G: So when they came round and said “Right, every other man…†You’d never see anything like it, now we’ve got a little kabush for radar.

I: How big was it about five foot by eight? Was it made of steel or wood?

G: Steel yes, and we had two sets, one of us was on the set half-hour whilst the other would write anything. When they said that, there was nine of us in there, legs and arms everywhere. When they said they held it and we didn’t have to go. Everyone said. “We’d have shown them if we went.†We were only about eighteen or nineteen you know.

:thumright:

Kind regards,

~Vesper
 

Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
I understand Warspite was diverted from other tasks to help at Omaha. By this time she had one turret and one boiler room permanently out of action as I understand. She was firing over the head of my great-uncle who had been a Mid in her forward turret at Jutland so he must have been cheered up to see her. He was a Cdr on the Retired List and had been sent in to manage the unloading of merchantmen who were supposed to drive onto the beach at high tide and then crane their stuff over the side when the tide ran out, then float off again. In the end as he put it to me he 'spent three days in a foxhole waiting for the Americans to sort themselves out'. He didn't know his only son was further along to the East in the only RN ship (Wrestler) to be put permanently out of action on the day itself.

Part of the problem at Omaha was the Americans refusing to take advice from the RN. The swimming tanks were launched too far out so that they sank and the infantry then didn't have their guns on the beach to help out.
 
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