Account by Ron Muggleton
Account prepared by Ron Muggleton, the eldest son of LAC Lewis George Muggleton
L G Muggleton joined the RAF on 29th July 1942, aged 21, and after spells at RAF Penarth (Kit Issuing Unit), and RAF Squiresgate, Blackpool (Basic Training), he was posted as an Aircraft Hand, General Duties, on 15th September 1942, to 653 Squadron, RAF Old Sarum, Wiltshire. In a matter of only a few days, he moved with the Squadron to RAF Penshurst in Kent where 653 undertook duties as Air Observation Posts – (Artillery Spotting). He remained there until 11th February 1944, when he was posted to No. 21 BDW (Base Defence Wing) at RAF Church Fenton, (Yorkshire), where the strength at that date was 97 Other Ranks.
Prior to D-Day, 21 BDW changed its nomenclature to 21 Base Defence Sector (BDS). Along with the rest of 21 Base Defence Sector, he left RAF Church Fenton on 23rd April 1944, and travelled to Sopley in the New Forest, Hampshire, stopping overnight at Lutterworth Army Staging Camp (Leicestershire) and the following night at RAF Zeals (Wiltshire), before arriving at RAF Sopley (Hampshire), on 25th April 1944.
He stated that he spent a few days on a Landing Craft before landing in Normandy with 21 BDS on the evening of D-Day. He never spoke to any of his immediate family about his experiences on Omaha beach, but it is known that he hated being on the water and could not swim.
From his RAF Form 2520A, (Royal Air Force Service and Release Book), it can be seen that he was originally intended to go over to Normandy on 22nd June 1944 but this had been altered to 6th June 1944. It is assumed that he was a late addition, along with a few others, as it seems that little or no thought had been given to basic necessities such as cooking etc., with all thoughts centred only on the technical aspects of the First Echelon, (GCI 15082).
He told his eldest son, Ron, quite late in his life when he – Lewis -would have been in his mid 60s, that he was in 21 Sector initially at RAF Church Fenton (Yorkshire), that he travelled as described above to Sopley in the New Forest (Hampshire), that he was on a Landing Craft (LCT) for some days prior to crossing the Channel, and that he landed on Omaha beach on the evening of D-Day. He spoke very well of the American troops who he says looked after them and who coped admirably following the destruction of their Mulberry Harbour in a storm only a few days after it had been erected.
He said that the function of 21 Sector was as a Mobile Radar Unit which provided this facility on behalf of the Americans until such time as Cherbourg airfield was captured. More permanent radar was installed, and they returned to England. This account has been proved to be more or less correct and he did return with the radar element of 21 Sector on 27th September 1944 which went to RAF Ibsley (Hampshire) having disembarked at Southampton. His F2520A, Service and Release Book gives the date of return of this main body of 21 Sector from Utah Beach as 24th September 1944. According to the Operations Record Book of 21 BDS, this was the date at which it was initially intended to leave Normandy and they were all packed up waiting for the order to leave. However, there were a number of delays and the actual date of departure was 27th September. In this respect the information in his Service and Release Book is incorrect both on the date he left England and on the date he returned.
He told his eldest son that a “Discipline SNCO” took him to task when he was at RAF Ibsley, about his uniform being non-standard. At the time, it was assumed that he had the wrong buttons or something similar, but it has later become known that 21 Sector personnel who landed on D-Day in their RAF Blue/Grey uniforms were mistaken by American troops for Germans who wore Field Grey. 21 BDS were experiencing “friendly fire”. The Americans issued them all with GI uniforms in order to prevent this. It is highly likely that returning members of 21 Sector were “swanking” in this unauthorised apparel at RAF Ibsley and this is what aroused the ire of the SNCO.
He gave very little information between the time of his landing “on the evening of D-Day” and his return in late September 1944.
However, he did tell his son when he first imparted this information in the mid 1980s, that he was in Paris and saw the Liberation Parade. The only Radar Unit from 21 Sector which would have been in Paris at that time was GCI 15082. On 23rd August 1944, they had been ordered to pack up prior to moving to Auteuil Racecourse in Paris. The move took place in a hurry on 24th August 1944, and after travelling via Le Mans and being held up by the French Resistance on the outskirts of Paris, they eventually set up on Longchamps Racecourse. It was claimed by some members of 21 Sector who were there that they were the first Allied troops in to Paris, probably even before the German Governor had officially surrendered the city to the Allies.
He would have been with 21 Sector while they were passing time at RAF Ibsley (Hampshire), until he was finally posted to 85 Group Police Unit in Belgium, (mainly in Ghent and Blankenburghe), on 4th December 1944, just in time to be involved in the Von Runstedt Offensive, better known as “The Battle of the Bulge”, but that is another story.
He was finally discharged from the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 12th December 1945 at RAF Cardington, Bedfordshire, having stayed with the 85 Group Police Unit until that time.
His final assessments were:
RAF Character – Very Good. (The Highest Assessment possible)
Proficiency – Superior. (Higher than Satisfactory and below Exceptional).