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.
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.