Friday, November 11, 2011

Daddy, what did you do in the great war?

My Dad has always been reticent about what he did in the last war. I know that some veterans prefer not to talk about their experiences. Enquiring indirectly via Mum it turns out that he didn't seem to think there was much to tell - only ferrying American tanks to Omaha Beach following the D-Day landings!

Here, with his permission, is a note my Dad wrote to set the record straight:

My career in the Royal Navy.

I was called up in 1943 (18 yrs old) and they gave you the choice of Navy, Army or RAF. I chose the Navy.

You start as an Ordinary Seaman with 3 months preliminary training. A number of us were singled out as possible officer material and put into a special class.

After this you served for 3 months on the lower deck of a ship which was an invaluable experience.

You then went for officer training at Brighton (Lancing College) and were passed, or otherwise.

I was now, because of my age, a Midshipman to start with and later a Second Lieutenant.

I was posted to a Tank Landing Craft with a C.O., myself and a crew of 10 - 12 seamen. This was about 2 weeks after D-Day in June 1944.

Our job was to carry 6 American tanks and crew to Omaha Beach on continuous trips backwards and forwards to reload.* By this time the beaches had been cleared although you could sometimes hear inland gunfire. The war ended in 1945 and I was demobilised in 1946, returning to my architectural studies which had been disrupted.

Michael McLellan
Sept. 2011

P.S. In my first week back I shared a studio with a certain Margery Scales. The rest is history.

Omaha Beach
Omaha Beach

* which Dad later clarified was for about 6 months making over 30 round trips.

Edit [23-November-2023]:

When my mother died I officially became the next of kin for my late father. This meant I could apply for his military service records on my own account. This provided me with additional information on his wartime service. Included in that was a period he spent from 28-July-1944 to 8-May 1945 as second-in-command on a US-built tank landing craft, LCT1073. Built in Mare Island Navy Yard (Vallejo, California, U.S.A.) in April 1944 this craft was used to ferry American tanks from the UK to Omaha beach following the Normandy D-Day landings. He never, as far as we know, bothered to claim his medal.

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