Thursday, December 1, 2016

Audio: Robert Stirling Recalls a Wet, D-Day Landing

We Finally Landed, They Dropped the Ramp Down

by Robert Stirling, Army

HMCS LCI(L)-118 of the 262nd Flotilla disembarking troops in NAN sector
of Juno Beach, Summer 1944. Photo - Robert Garand, The Memory Project

Introduction: One will find hundreds of audio files related to the experiences of men and women associated with many branches of Canadian Armed Forces and Canadian organizations (e.g., Red Cross, CWAC, etc.) at The Memory Project. Most audio files are accompanied by authentic WW2 photos and a written transcript.

Please link to the audio file that recalls the memories of Robert Stirling during the D-Day Normandy landings.

His story, which gives readers a vivid sense of what Canadians in Combined Operations would have witnessed on June 6, 1944, begins as follows:

"Just before D-Day, they moved everybody in the big tents. There was about eight guys to each tent, four on each side."

The men were surrounded by barbed wire and not allowed to leave the area for a few days unless given special permission and all that stuff. Meanwhile, there amassed in the surrounding towns in southern England all manner of trucks filled with the materials of war.

"All the ships that were involved in the D-Day landing were lined up all over the place. It was unbelievable," says Stirling.

He witnesses not only the build up of men and materials on dry land but also sees the departure and landings of ALCs. Soon, it is his turn to travel across the English Channel and disembark on Normandy's shores, likely from an LCI(L). We read the following from his audio transcript:

"And we finally landed, they dropped the ramp down; and I went to go out and I caught my heel on the last big lug at the end of the ramp and fell over backwards."

His task of keeping his Bren Gun [light machine gun] high and dry was made very difficult. Coils of the rope sailors were tugging - to anchor the landing craft - keep grabbing his arm and throwing him under the water. This happened repeatedly, making for a memorable day, for certain.

"Yeah, I finally got up," he says.

More details follow on the audio file.

Eye-witness accounts like the above may give readers an appreciation for the vastness of the D-Day enterprise.

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