Doug Owen – notes from a conversation (June 2014)

Doug Owen was not part of BDS 21 nor GCI 15082, but landed close by with the Canadians. His story is worth including as he was a Radar Operator with the RAF.

Ron Muggleton visited Doug Owen in June 2014 and his notes from the meeting are below:

I visited Doug Owen on Wednesday morning as arranged. He is a very pleasant man, typical of the men of our fathers’ days. His sons were present also (they didn’t know me from Adam and were clearly making sure that I was not some low-life of the type that preys on old folk). Fortunately, we got on famously as they pretty soon realised that I am genuine!

Unfortunately, although Doug has a very interesting experience to relate, there is nothing in it which would be of material interest to you or me regarding 21 Sector. The only connection is that his brother-in-law by the name of Ray Marjoram, landed on Omaha but he does not know much more than that. He relates that he landed at a port somewhere on the junction between Sword and Omaha beaches – he didn’t even get his feet wet! 24 Sector didn’t seem to mean anything to him but he spoke of GCI 15129 and then 63116 later on when he was at Walcheren in Holland. He also mentioned GCI 15081 and of knowing of it at Christmas 1944. He trained in radar at RAF Yatesbury (Wiltshire) (that is a very familiar place for radar), having first been trained as a navigator but then, being found to have inadequate eyesight, he was barred from aircrew – something which he says is probably why he is still around now, given the low life expectancy of aircrew! He was an LAC radar operator which surprised me, but there is a photograph of him sitting at a radar set at the RAF Air Defence and radar Museum at Neatishead where he was taken on a trip by his sons about 2 years ago and they said that, the moment he sat at the console his left hand went straight to the goniometer and he was operating it just like he did all those years ago.

He said that they went to Normandy in RAF blue and that he was spat in the face by a Frenchman who mistook him for a German because of the blue uniform – and who was promptly felled by a punch from one of Ray’s colleagues for his mistake and his abuse.

As a matter of interest, I queried why he had a group of three medals when I expected there should have been four. His sons pricked up their ears at this as they and Ray had noticed that most of the Normandy Veterans had the group of four. Ray asked if I thought he was entitled to it and I said that he most definitely was. The one he was missing is the Defence Medal. If he has the 1939 – 1945 Star, the France and Germany Star and the War Medal I cannot conceive of any reason why he should not have the Defence Medal.

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