The Royal Air Force at Omaha Beach

About This Site

This website is dedicated to the men of RAF 21 Base Defence Sector (BDS), 85 Group, 2nd Tactical Air Force, who landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on D-Day, 6th June 1944.

Their story has remained relatively unknown, but they suffered 48 casualties out of a group of 180 or so, and only in 2012 was their heroism recognised by the unveiling of a monument at Vierville-sur-Mer. It is a remarkable and moving story.

A vast amount of information has been collected as well as interviews with veterans. In 2020, historian Mark Felton produced a very poignant programme for his YouTube channel called “The Brits who stormed Omaha Beach” which gave the story of these brave men a far wider audience. To date, just under 2 million views have been recorded. We recommend you view this and then turn to the Introduction page where you will be signposted to some of the most remarkable aspects of this mission.

The Defining Photograph for 21 BDS

The scene on Omaha Beach on the afternoon of D-Day, 6 June 1944, showing casualties on the beach, a bogged-down Sherman tank, several wrecked trucks and German anti-landing obstructions.

A LST is beached in the left distance and invasion shipping is offshore. More significantly, amongst the trucks in the centre are two burnt-out Crossley 409 receiver or 405 transmitter trucks of 21 BDS (see Radar Equipment section).

Official US Navy Photograph, collection in the US National Archives

14 Responses

  1. I have only today discovered your splendid video – having on some previous years visited St. Mere Église at this time of year.
    Those visits followed another discovery made some eight/nine years ago when, followong my mother’s demise I discovered the George Medal awarded to my late father, Ruben Robert Eckersall, along with a letter praising his role on Omaha beach as a member of 21 BDS.
    With the medal was a personal diary describing subsequent activity in Paris.

    1. Thank you for your message, Malcolm. We would certainly like to know more about your late father, plus any wartime photographs you have of him, especially any with comrades. Would you be able to send us a copy of the letter praising his role on Omaha Beach? His personal diary describing his activity after D-Day also sounds most interesting. Best wishes, David (admin, and son of Eric Heathcote)

  2. I am researching information for a fellow veteran, Gordon Pointer from Oxted Branch of the RBL. His uncle was Signalman Stanley Walter Peckett of 15082 GCI. Thankyou for the information on this website I shall pass this on.

    1. I’m delighted that you have found our website, Mike, and have gleaned information about Signalmen Peckett. If you (and Gordon) haven’t seen it, please check out the News section: I uploaded fresh photos of all the 21BDS headstones last night. The graves are being very well tended. And did you see the BBC presentation from Bayeux, with all the headstones lit up? Very moving. If Gordon has any photos of his uncle, please ask him to contact us. We would love to post copies on our website. David

      1. Thank you, I have passed the message and asked Gordon to bring in any photos tomorrow. The Oxted Legion is holding D Day events this weekend. Afternoon tea with Spam Sandwiches etc.
        On Sunday a challenge using gym bikes to race to Gold Beach money raised going to the Poppy appeal.
        I spent his name wrong it is Gordon Poynter. He served with the RHA in the 1950s and proud of it. He said he was “Gobsmacked” to read that his uncle was on Omaha Beach. At our memorial yesterday at 1100 hrs after our wreath laying ceremony I provided the link between Gordon and Stanley Beckett and his sacrifice. Those assembled were quite moved. Thank you again for this amazing website.

        1. Spam sandwiches?? I hope you make it VERY clear to the other members of Oxted Legion that the catering volunteers have had to save up their butter rations for a very long time! Best wishes, David

          1. I now have some Photos of Stanley Peckett , how do I upload them to you?
            Thanks,
            Mike

          2. Thank you very much, Mike. I will reply to you separately about uploading the photos. David

  3. Hi David,
    I have recently returned from Omaha beach where my Dad landed on D-Day. He was with the RAF and I am pretty certain therefore that he was part of the 21 Base Defence Sector. He was based in or near Northallerton before he went to France and his name was Robert (Bob) Dixon. Try as I might, I cannot find anything proving he was part of the Unit and wonder if you might be able to point in in the right direction. I have quite of lot of photos of him during the war if you would be interested. Thanks

    1. Thank you very much for contacting us. Do you have your Dad’s service number and record? If you send us copies of the photos you have of your Dad, our experts may be able to spot details which will add to what you know him. Best wishes, David (admin)

      1. Thanks for getting back to me David. I dont have his service number and record unfortunately and that has been a barrier to finding out any more. What’s the best way to get you the photos? best wishes Diane

        1. I’m happy for you to email me directly with any photos: david.heathcote@mac.com

          The National Archives
          https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk › research-guides
          This is a guide to finding records of soldiers who served with the British Army in the Second World War.

          All enlisted members of military forces and its branches were assigned a unique service number upon enlistment which can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act and obtained from the National Personnel Records Centre or the National Archives.

          Does that help? David

          1. Thanks for this David. I’ll email you the photos. and have a look at the national archives records.
            Diane

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