Transport to the beaches

This section of the website covers the time that 21 BDS left their concentration area, D-2 close to Lytchett Minster, and arriving on Omaha Beach.

The reason this particular section is important to understanding the knowledge and experience that the unit encountered is that it tries to explain why the units were made up as they were.  How many vehicles and men were on the allocated landing craft and to portray the conditions which the men would have experienced during the period in question.

The men left Camp D-2 on Friday 2nd June four days before the eventual invasion of France.  They left in the morning and their convoy made the 28 miles to Portland to arrive by 1500 hours.  All of the vehicles would have been already converted for amphibious landings where engines and exhausts would have been protected for a landing from sea.  This waterproofing caused the lorries to overheat and the journey would have been slow and tortuous with frequent stops to allow engine cooling to recover to prevent boiling.

On Saturday 3rd June boarding of the landing craft commenced.  This process would have been thoroughly rehearsed and in the case of Squadron Leader Best was allocated LCT 611 as the landing craft for which he would make his journey.  By researching the number of vehicles which were likely to have made up GCI 15082 and the associated smaller units that travelled with BDS 21, would give us an indication of not only the capacity of the landing craft but also whether further landing craft were needed that went from different UK harbours.

We know from the US National Archive the official landing details and programme that was published in May 1944 and in this research 21 BDS were allocated a landing table index number 4014 to 4018 respectively.  Two LCT mark IV’s and three LCT VI’s were allocated to take the RAF detachment to the beaches and the landing location was officially allocated to be Easy Red.  Also from this document the total number of personnel from the five landing craft were 170 and the number of vehicles were 48 (Ref:  The Landing Table attached on the next page).

This gives us one of the best indications of the number and equipment that were transported to Omaha and the challenge has been to allocate the different equipment to the different landing craft.

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