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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, September 2003 Contents

BerksFHS
Berkshire Family Historian
September 2003

Where were you on D-Day?

Letter to the Editor from John Davies, Reading


I was fascinated to read Barbara Dove’s article in the June journal about her father’s activities around D-Day. It is a sobering thought that we all eventually become family history but I can still clearly recall what I was doing on that day, 59 years ago.

501 Squadron, Hawkinge
501 Squadron, Hawkinge. John Davies is third in the back row.

I was a member of 501 Squadron flying Spitfire Vc’s. This was the version with clipped wings and cropped superchargers (in RAF parlance, ‘clipped, cropped and clapped’). On the morning of 6 June we were patrolling the beaches from before dawn. No enemy aircraft appeared but we came in for heavy flak from both the Germans and the Royal Navy. On this occasion I was flying SD-J for Johnny, serial number X4272. I mention this because the aircraft was actually a veteran of the Battle of Britain. We did several two-hour beachhead patrols, using extra fuel tanks, in the  first week but only had one brush with Me 109s. On the 12 June the squadron landed in France at San Quand de Mer. The landing strip was constructed of Pierce Steel Planking, which made an awful noise on touching down, but turned a boggy field into a safe runway. We stayed overnight and were fed by the army. I remember the simple pleasure of dining on freshly baked bread and bully beef. We did not sleep much as the pounding of the Royal Navy’s big guns, bombing and incoming shells created a terrible din.

We continued to operate around the front for several weeks. We lost two pilots on 12 July and they were buried at Douvres, Calvados. We then converted to Tempest Vs and became 274 Squadron. On 17 September I took the Squadron to patrol Schouen Island in support of the airborn invasion. It was so good to see all the Dutch people out, waving flags. On 29 September the Squadron joined 83 Group, Tactical Air Force and we were based first at Antwerp and then in Holland. I have all the details in my own log book.


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created 8th December 2003