Greg Lance – Watkins
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IN MEMORIAM of ‘D’ Day
late in the afternoon over 75 years ago my Mother got permission to slip away early from her secret radio ops. base near London – on condition she remained in Uniform! – she had no idea why she had to wear uniform but what the hell it got her off ops. early!
She was WRAF and now firmly grounded as her newly married husband said that 2 in the air was too many!
Father had arranged to fly into Biggin Hill in his Spitfire LFXI “FF-C” for a brief overnight stay and they were meeting for an early supper with some friends in a hotel near Croydon airport.
Mother heard the alarm and rapidly got up – not quite sure why she had to – dressed, rather blearily in the dark, and was on the front steps of the hotel just as dawn was breaking. Those were her instructions!!
Just as dawn broke she heard the familiar roar of Merlin Engines as a Squadron of Spitfires led by Sqdrn/Ldr. A.G. Page flew at roof top over the hotel waggling their wings – she spent the next 10 minutes helping a cleaning lady clear up the mess she’d made falling over her bucket of soapy water as she, being less used to Spitfires at close quarters than my Mother, dived for cover!
Then the sprint back to her station where at every opportunity for the rest of the day she tuned in to listen to No.132 (City of Bombay) Squadron, my Father’s squadron as it provided the air cover on the beaches of the Normandy Landings. He flew at least 3 or 4 sorties over the beaches & convoys that day, each for around 2 hours before returning to ‘Blighty’ to refuel.
Operation Overlord with the landing of 156,000 allied troops from 6,500+ ships on the beaches of Normandy (Operation Neptune) was under way, the start of the liberation of Europe and the defeat of Germany & its allies, which cost the allies 4,400+ lives in the first 48 hours!
In all during the 77 days of the D-Day Campaign Britain lost some 22,400 men, now buried in the 15 commemorative cemetaries of the Normandy Battle and tended by the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The landings were to be preceded by airborne landings near Caen on the eastern flank, which commenced at 00:30hrs. that morning, to secure the Orne River bridges including Pegasus Bridge, and north of Carentan on the western flank. The Americans, assigned to land at Utah Beach and Omaha Beach, were to attempt to capture Carentan and St. Lô the first day, then cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and eventually capture the port facilities at Cherbourg.
The British at Sword Beach and Gold Beach and Canadians at Juno Beach would protect the American flank and attempt to establish airfields near Caen. A secure lodgement would be established and an attempt made to hold all territory north of the Avranches–Falaise line within the first three weeks. Montgomery envisaged a ninety-day battle, lasting until all Allied forces reached the Seine.
Sometime after D-Day my father & another Spitfire pilot on an early morning met. flight spotted the German Army in retreat along a road with high banks on either side they flew to the front of the column & destroyed the leading vehicles and then to the back to do the same. They then flew up and down the column straffing the vehicles & enemy below until they ran out of ammunition thus creating what was I believe later called the Falaise Box as they had boxed the enemy in.
Given the commemoration of this momentous day 75 years ago, it is very appropriate to share a document that records and acknowledges my father’s considerable and historic contribution.
Please see 16 page pdf Attachment of No.132 (City of Bombay) Squadron’s Operations Record Book (ORB) for the month of June 1944.
There are numerous references to W/O D.J. Watkins and the sorties in which he flew Spitfire LFXI “FF-C”, and an occasional alternatives.
The ORB for 10th May 1944 records his promotion from Flight Sergeant to Warrant Officer.
In the 48 hours of D Day alone British fatal casualties were around 3,000+ with many many more injured.
It was his part in boxing in the retreating German Army near Falaise and his part in the liberation of Belsen later in the war that troubled him the most and to the end of his life he woke at least once a week with nightmares at what he had seen, though he never spoke of it and I knew nothing of it until after his death when my Mother told me of his fear that mankind had learned so little from the largest seaborne invasion in history, the horrors of war and the obscenity of genocide & particularly the brutality of what Germany treated as a mundane normality in the Holocaust with their treatment and slaughter of Jews, Gypsies, the disabled, homosexuals & many prisoners, which led to the deliberate industrialised slaughter of around 6,000,000 men, women & children!
The German General in charge of the defence against landings in Normandy on D-Day, when he was taken prisoner is reported to have said ‘… on that morning when I saw the size of the force being landed I knew this was the begining of the end of the war for Germany’. The German leaders were so concerned that it was not until 10:30hrs on D-Day that anyone had the courage to tell Hitler who was well behind the lines in Bavaria.
1,000s died to give you and I our liberty!
The Normandy Beaches
6th. June 1944
Where They Gave Their Lives For You & I
Only to be betrayed by political filth acting in self interest at the expense of our Country just a few decades later.
Few things in my life have revolted me more than the glib willingness of the scum of the earth to squabble and back stab to get their snouts in the troughs on The EU Gravy Train.
Even less edifying have been the filth that has crawled out of the gutters to lie and cheat, plot and scheme against decent honest people, who have no interest in personal reward, yet seek to liberate these United Kingdoms from under the heel of those to whom our politicians have betrayed us.
Richard North made a very simple but very understanding comment on his Blog:
In a demonstration of raw courage, ingenuity, determination and sheer power, on 6 June 1944 the combined Allied Armies launched the greatest invasion fleet in the history of man onto the shores of Normandy – a feat never since equalled and never likely to be repeated.
Many arrived – many fewer left. We owe them a great deal.
But Richard has a better understanding of the betrayal of Britain by Politicians and a clear understanding of young men in battle, let down by the politicians who betrayed them and the senior officers jockeying for position, do read his recent book – Details CLICK HERE
“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821),
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