The RAF at Omaha Beach - Introduction

When Operation Overlord commenced on Tuesday, 6th June 1944, the largest amphibious landings the World had ever seen started the opening of the second front to defeat the Axis powers. On D-Day alone, 156,000  allied forces landed in Normandy on five separate landing beaches (1).  Two were allocated to the US forces, and three to the British and Canadians.

Whilst the Allies expected that their superior numbers and overwhelming fire-power would allow the initial landings to be successful, the planners expected the Germans to mount aggressive counter-attacks from land, air and sea. In order to give the maximum protection from the Luftwaffe (German Air Force), the RAF was given the job of providing advanced mobile radar protection to the front lines, one Ground Control Intercept Unit (GCI) accompanying the British beach landings, and one seconded to the US.

At that time, the British mobile radar technology was the best in the World, so the British provided the equipment and men to support the US forces on D-Day. These two BDS (Base Defence Sectors) were formed around two GCI. The one that accompanied the British on Sword Beach was 24 BDS with 15083 GCI, whilst it was 21 BDS with 15082 GCI that landed on Omaha Beach.

It is the story of the preparation, mission, tragic events and heroism of 21 BDS that this website seeks to record. Hitherto, very little has been written about this gallant band of 160 or so men who bravely carried out their mission despite being under sustained fire and significant losses to both men and equipment. It is to their memory and honour that this web site is dedicated.

(1) Click on the thumbnail below to view the map:

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