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

2 Responses

  1. Hi, I am trying to find my Ganddads history, a Mr. James Jenkins from London, who was a communications specialist with the RAF during WW2. I came across this website by fluke. 21 BDS I remember hearing about in my teens from my Nan but never thought anything of it. Is there any record of personnel names from the sector? Appreciate any feedback.

    1. Hello, Gareth –

      David (Heathcote) here, one of the editors. Thank you for contacting us. Everything we currently have is on the website: http://www.therafatomahabeach.com – no reference to a James Jenkins, I’m afraid. But that certainly does not mean your granddad wasn’t part of the 21 BDS team. Can I suggest you apply for a copy of your granddad’s war service record? It costs 30GBP, and can take up to a year(!) to be sent to you, but it should give you some useful leads. The link is https://www.gov.uk/get-copy-military-service-records/apply-for-someone-elses-records Please let us know what you find out: if he was part of the team that landed on Omaha Beach, we’d love to include him on the website. Do you have any photos of him in his service uniform? Best wishes, David

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