Transport to the beaches
This section of the website covers the time from when 21 BDS left their concentration area, D-2, close to Lytchett Minster (a village in Dorset, England), until they arrived on Omaha Beach in Normandy.
The reason this particular section is important 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? What were the conditions the men 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, planning to arrive by 15:00 hours. All the vehicles had already been converted for amphibious landings, the engines and exhausts had been protected for a landing in seawater. This waterproofing caused the lorries to overheat, and the journey to Portland would have been slow and tortuous, with frequent stops to allow engines to cool down and prevent coolant from boiling.
On Saturday 3rd June, boarding of the landing craft commenced. This process would have been thoroughly rehearsed; Squadron Leader Best was allocated LCT 611 as the landing craft on which he would make his journey. By researching the number of vehicles likely to have made up GCI 15082 and the associated smaller units that travelled with BDS 21, this gives us an indication of not only the total capacity of the landing craft but also whether further landing craft were needed from other originating UK harbours.
From the US National Archive, we know the official landing details and programme that was produced in May 1944. In these plans, 21 BDS were allocated landing table index numbers 4014 to 4018 inclusive. Two LCT mark IVs and three LCT VIs were allocated to take the RAF detachment to the beaches, and the landing location was officially designated 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 on the next page).
This gives us one of the best indications of the numbers of men and equipment that were transported to Omaha. The challenge has been to allocate the equipment listed to the different landing craft.