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Mne.Ronald John Jacobs PO/X 118350 ? 651 Flotilla landing Craft  XML
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*ceira*
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MNE. RONALD JOHN JACOBS ? PO/X 118350 ? 651 FLOTILLA LANDING CRAFT

I am trying to find out more information regarding my late father, Royal Marine Ronald John Jacobs. Sadly my father passed away suddenly in 1977 at the age of 51 and had never spoken to me, or anyone else within the family, of his experiences during WWII. I have copies of his service records, although they are somewhat sparse in the information contained therein. However, this is what his records contain:

He enlisted into the Royal Marines at Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth, at the age of 17 on April 21, 1943, and was assigned to N Company. During November 1943 he was at HBL RM School of Signalling before joining COPRA on November 21 and serving under this until April 8, 1946. Between April 9 and June 17, 1946, it is recorded, under name of division or ship, that he was with "Shrapnel (Cricket)" ? This, I have found out, was HMS . . . Cricket, a shore base at Bursledon on the South Coast for landing craft personnel. Shrapnel was another base at Southampton. On June 18, 1946, he was again at Portsmouth Division and was discharged on August 27th, 1946, under Class A.

I have enclosed a photo of three Royal Marines, my father is the one on the right. The other two are Dennis "Johnno" Johnson on the left and in the middle, my father's best mate, who sadly did not make it through to the end of the war. I believe his name was "Geordie" Horner or Howarth, although I cannot be sure? He was married with a very young daughter and I think he had lived in Paisley.

Johnno and my father remained good friends after the war and he would come with his family to visit us on the Isle of Wight. Sadly, Johnno passed away in 2006 but had told me earlier on in that year all he could remember regarding his time with my father during the war:

He met my father in 1944 and they were both in Signals (communications). They were at Westcliffe (which I believe was HMS Westcliffe II, a Combined Operations holding base for RM landing craft personnel) prior to D-Day and on June 5 were at Hayling Island. On D-Day they headed for Sword Beach.

A fortnight after D-Day they caught a train to Liverpool where they embarked on a troop carrier to Bombay, India. From here they sailed to Columbo in Ceylon (where they loaded gear) and then onto Rangoon, Malaya. Other ports of call en-route were Mandapam at the tip of India and Trincomalee (3-4 days) in Ceylon.

Some of the landing craft carriers, among others, they had been on: Glenroy, Glen Avon, Silvio (Sylvio).

While in the Far East, they were involved in the assaults on Ramree Island, Akyab Island and the Arakan. Johnno told me that they were put ashore for night patrols under the cover of darkness and left again under the cover of darkness. Now, whether these were for reconnaissance missions or raiding parties I do not know?

At the end of the war, they looked after Japanese in a prisoners of war camp. They returned from Singapore to the UK in January/February 1946 aboard the Queen Emma.

Johnno spoke of my father as a quiet, unassuming, well liked man who was very brave and told me that I should be proud to have had a father as my own, of which I am wholeheartedly.

He also told me that he thought my father may have been promoted or put forward for promotion prior to him leaving the Royal Marines. There is no mention of this on his records but just some figures written down under the Notes section: S.1075 274595 and D.B. 51692 (I have no idea what these could mean?). There is also no mention of what RM Commando my father was in, but from my own research I assume he must have been in/attached to 42 RM Commando (perhaps someone knows different?).

My father was awarded the following medals: The 1939-1945 Star, The Burma Star, The France and Germany Star, The Defence Medal and The War Medal 1939-1945. The Burma Star Association has also told me that my father said he was part of 651 Flotilla Landing Craft.

I would be extremely grateful for any information or help, however small, that anyone may be able to offer.

PS. I have in my possession a black beret, yes black not green , which belonged to my father (I believe Royal Marines were originally issued with a black beret but this was later replaced at some time during WWII with the green beret) and I also have his yellow/red signal flags with 651 marked on the handles. I also know that he brought a Japanese officer's sword back from the Far East as my mother said she refused to have it in the house, so my father took it to his parents' house. Where it went from there, nobody seems to know.



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Hi Ceira,
Welcome to the CVA Forum.
It seems as if you've already done an incredible amount of research into your father already - well done.
I see you've already approached The Burma Star Association but have you also tried The Royal Marine Association?

http://www.royalmarinesassociation.org.uk/

That's a great photo of your father and his mates - if you have any more, don't forget to post them in the42(RM) Cmdo Album, in the CVA photo gallery.
A couple of photos may jog a few memory cells...

Good Luck,
Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 26/01/2008 22:59:50


Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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*ceira*
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My father did belong to the Isle of Wight Branch of the Royal Marines Association but when I contacted them several years ago they could not provide any details regarding which Commando he was in/attached to. The Isle of Wight Branch is no longer in existence.

I could post this photo in the 42(RM) Cmdo album, but at this stage I am still not certain that he was in this unit. I also have this group photo with my father in, which I believe was taken in the Far East.



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Ceira,

I'm trying to follow up on some little clues to see where that leads...

Your father's best friend - Geordie Horner/Howarth? - do you know was he with your father out in Far East when he died?

Nick

Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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*ceira*
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I am not 100 percent sure that "Geordie" was with my father in the Far East when he died ? but I can recall my mother telling me many years ago that Dad had told her his best mate had gone overboard, Dad jumped in to try and save him but as he reached him and tried to grab hold of him, his mate went under and Dad never saw him again.

I have often wondered if Dad had toned down the exact story as to what had happened as he didn't want Mum to know the full story, but this is something that I will probably never find out. Dad had also told Mum that his mates wanted to put him forward for a bravery award for what he did, but Dad would not hear of it, saying anyone would have done the same thing.

I am immensely proud of my father and this truly reflects the type of man he was.

One can only imagine the anguish he must have gone through after this tragic event, where he was so close to saving his best mate.
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Ceira,
given what you've told us, I think that I may have found your father's best friend...
'Marine G W HAW, 44 (RM) CMDO, died in Burma on 6 January 1945 - accident while on active service.
Mne Haw was from RM Plymouth Division and but he doesn't seem to appear to be listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website at all. [That might be a project for you to follow up ]

There were no Marines listed on the Roll of Honour, that I have access to, named Horner or Howarth, but, is it possible that the name has become extended from Haw to HORner or HOWarth over the years?
I think that it is possible that the G in Mne Haw's name stood for George (Georgie?) which is quite a quite a common name in the Paisley/Glasgow area.

Hopefully this is of some use in your research?
Good luck,
Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/01/2008 15:25:49


Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Ceira,
You may not have got far with the Isle of Wight branch of the RMAssociation but did you try the RM Commando Associations? (see link attached)

http://www.royalmarinesregimental.co.uk/retassociations.html

Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/01/2008 16:31:29


Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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*ceira*
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Many thanks for your reply, it is certainly a lead which I will try to explore further.

The only Marine named Horner that I could find was on the CWGC website:
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_details.aspx?casualty=2481400

It has his unit as HMS Tengra, which was a Combined Operations base in Mandapam, and his date of death appears as 9/7/45 aged 28. His service number listed is: EX/4226. It also states that his parents lived at West Allotment, Northumberland. West Allotment is in Tyne and Wear (Newcastle). I thought this might be why he was nicknamed "Geordie" Horner.
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ceira,
just in case you don't have enough research to do already, here is a link to the RN Casualty lists:

http://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1003-Intro.htm


Both HAW & HORNER are listed


Nick

Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Ceira,

Looks like I was wrong about HAW - his initial was C not G and he came from Lincolnshire:


http://www.specialforcesroh.com/browse.php?mode=viewiroll&rollid=1831


Cheers,
Nick

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 27/01/2008 23:39:12


Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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John M
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Hi Everyone

Attached is the photo of Mne.Ronald John Jacobs PO/118350-651 Flotilla.......this image semed to get lost.

Apologies to the author of this thread.
Regards
John M
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Hi. I have just come across your original post, about 651 Flotilla and your father. 651 Flotilla was MY father's outfit after training at Eastney barracks 1942.

What also caught my eye was the group picture of men with their shirts off, one of which is my father. In my version of your picture, my father has put an 'X' on his chest to make it easier for people to see which one he was (sitting on a chair/bench on the far left as you look at the picture, with just a man's head looking over his right shoulder, with what looks like a cigarette in his mouth and that man's left hand on my father's left shoulder) Also, this mans right hand is on the right elbow of the man standing at the end of the middle row.

His ribs are almost showing as they were all "like whippets" as he once mentioned to us. Such was the lack of food at the time and their general health/lifestyle In the field.

You mention in your post how your father would "go on night patrol". My father would also go on patrol as part of the normal duty's carried out by the 'ordinary' marines, when sea duty was not required. They were not in the commando's at all, or attached too them as such, just being used to patrol as 'extra' men available for such a task. The 651 Flotilla did this after the main landing at Normandy (my father was at JUNO, on either NAN RED or NAN GREEN. He cannot remember exactly (as of this date of writing, he is in an old peoples' home and his memory is very hit and miss)

His memory of the start of D-Day was of the whole horizon lighting up in one go, as the naval bombardment started. It was very frightening he recalls. He saw many terrible things on that day and the following days, being in Normandy until November '44, when he was sent with the flotilla out too the far east.

It must be remembered that my father, like a lot of men, was quite young at the time (aged 20 at the time of D-Day) and had never seen a dead body in his life until that day. This was true for most men of course and he lost his faith in God on that day, only going back to church in around 1985 I think, after talking to a minister in California. He was visiting a schoolboy friend who went to America in 1946, after a wartime career in the RAF.

Upon arriving in the far east, they also went on patrol in Burma, Malaya etc. as and when required to do so. One such patrol had a terrible ending.

A patrol went out into the jungle and was declared overdue a few weeks later (they were supposed to last about 2 weeks or so apparently) Another patrol was sent out to find them, which in turn was declared overdue a few weeks later. The third patrol (with my father in it) was then sent out to find the other 2. This they duly did after about 1 week in the jungle.

The bodies of the men from both previous patrols' were found in a clearing, chopped into pieces by the Japanese who had ambushed them. As can be imagined this was a most shocking thing to have to deal with, especially as the dead Marines were the mates of the very men who found them. My father never forgot it (how could anyone!!) My father told us that the pieces were collected and taken back to base, even though this would have been very difficult at the time, given their condition and the amount involved.

There were lighter moments that my father told us about some years ago Like paying the local village girls to take their clothes of in the local river, where their landing craft were moored. Or using tea leaves for a brew-up, then drying them in the sun before selling them to the locals, who couldn't afford to buy their own tea for drinking.

The men's clothes would be washed by a local family as and when required. The other flotilla's had the same arrangement. My father used to pay 'their' family in tins of food as well as money, as food was scarce even for the locals. There were standing orders that no food should be given to local villagers for services rendered, as the Marines were short of supplies themselves, but everyone ignored this order. The men could all see how poor the local's were and had nothing better to spend their money on (except maybe the young ladies down by the river!!) and also saw how even a few tins of food might make a big difference too the lives of the villagers. Apparently the food might be sold-on to other villagers by this family, rather than eaten by themselves. Possibly they found the money more useful at that time.

The mother of this family (who actually did all of the work, as was the custom) was heavily pregnant at the time of my father's flotilla being posted to this location, and gave birth while my father was out on patrol for a few weeks. When he next went too their hut with his dirty clothes, they were very pleased to tell him that not only was it a baby boy, but they had named the boy after my father. Such was the regard they had for my father, that they wanted to thank him for the kindness he had shown them over the previous few months. He then asked what the baby's name was and they replied TAFFY.

My father (ARTHUR) didn't have the heart to say anything!!! He has often wondered what happened to 'TAFFY' afterwards.

During one patrol the men were put onto a lorry and given pots and pans to bang together. When the sergeant was asked why the pots and no bullets for their rifles, the reply given was along the lines of "if we give you bullets...you'll only hurt yourselves. Bang the pots together and the Japanese will be frightened off" They duly went on patrol along the roads and no Japanese were sighted the whole time.

The battle of Ramree island was part of 651 flotilla's wartime action, during which the last night was marked by the screams of the Japanese, as the blood in the water from all of the wounded, became a magnet for the salt water crocodiles, which 'came in' on the high tide. It seems that due to being mostly out of ammunition by then, the Japanese troops only had their bayonets etc. with which to defend themselves. If they even saw a crocodile in the dark before it attacked, or were even able to defend themselves at all.

One estimate puts the last night of the action as having roughly 1000 Japanese soldiers forced into the swamp at the northern tip of the island, with only a few survivors remaining the next day to surrender. Different sources give different estimates on the number of Japanese eaten alive, but the screams were very real.

The last major thing my father remembers is when they were all loaded onto the troopship to attack Singapore. The Japanese surrender was announced over the tannoy, when the fleet was about halfway to the target. They then landed un-opposed and were used to guard the Japanese soldiers who had just surrendered. They also provided guards on the troop ship that was used to take the Japanese troops home to Japan, the Japanese troops were very happy to be alive He remembers.

As to your father being possibly promoted. My father brought home a Japanese bayonet (from the time of guarding the Japanese soldiers) and I still have the 'slip' he was issued with, giving him permission to take home this souvenir. I mention this as 'other ranks' were only allowed to have a bayonet, while the slip mentions (with the corresponding words crossed out) a Japanese sword/pistol/bayonet. Being that your father had a sword, his slip would have had the words pistol/bayonet crossed out probably, so possibly your father was an NCO towards the end of his service. Someone else might have more info on this, but if he had brought a pistol home, his rank would have been that of an officer rather than corporal/sergeant.

I hope all of this hasn't been too long an answer, and that it provides a small sense of what your father might have experienced during his service. There are some more 'bits' of info I know regarding their time in Normandy etc. and I will post again if you would like to read more, but it is mostly not happy reading as such, though there are other little stories of humour amongst them.

I have attached the photo of my father (with the x on his chest) I have several photo's of his time in the Marines, though posts only allow three images at a time. I am willing to add them in due course if asked. All the best.

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MAD, I'M NOT MAD...MY BROTHER'S MAD...I'M A TRAIN!!
*ceira*
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Having regularly visited this forum on a weekly/monthly basis for a couple of years after my initial post about my father back in 2008, I am totally surprised that something should appear severa; years on regarding another Royal Marine who was part of LCM 651 Flotilla!

This is the first time that I have looked at the forum in about a year and reading this latest addition to the post, it appears that your father's war time experience seems to have mirrored my own father's, albeit that you have been lucky to talk with your father and have far more details of his wartime experiences. It appears to me that they must have known one another very well and were, in all probability, part of the same patrol on many occasions.

I recall Johnno (mentioned in my original post ? Dad's mate that he met in the Marines) telling me that Dad had also been part of the landings on D-Day, ferrying Canadian troops ashore at Juno beach. He told me they would drop off the troops and then return to the ships to pick up the next lot to be put ashore. Dad had told me many years ago that the sky was constantly lit up overhead with waves of shell and rocket fire coming from the Naval ships as they bombarded the enemy lines. That was all that my father had ever told me about his wartime experiences and reading some of own your father's experiences, I can understand why he had kept everything hidden. The other information that I have gathered about my father's wartime experiences has been mainly through my own research.

Incidentally, at the beginning of 2015 I came across an article online (on the Evening Times, Glasgow website) about another Royal Marine, John Cameron, who was part of 651 Flotilla and it gave a report on John recalling his experiences during D-Day to mark it's 70th anniversary. In the article it stated that he was residing at one of the Erskine care homes in Scotland which provide care for people who have served in one of HM Armed Forces. At present, the article is still available to view online ? http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/13282287.D_Day_70_years_on___We_were_caught_in_the_middle_as_shells_burst_all_around_us_/

I wondered at the time if, by chance, John Cameron might have any recollection of my father and duly contacted Erskine's press officer, giving details of my father and his association with 651 Flotilla, also enclosing the photo on this forum of the group of Royal Marines.

The Press officer duly contacted John's daughter who took all the information and photo along to her father. Unfortunately, through failing eyesight and memory loss, he was unable to identify anyone on the photo or indeed recall any names. However, his daughter had also looked closely at the photograph and has positively identified her father as being the person at the front, extreme left.

This group photo of my father, with what was initially unknown colleagues to me and taken sometime during WWII, has now resulted in the names of some of his colleagues coming to light after all these years! Your information and post is greatly appreciated and has helped me fill in a little bit more about my father's time in the war. Please do not forget to add your own father's name to this post ? he deserves to be mentioned here, to be held in high esteem and remembered like all those who were prepared to put their lives in jeopardy for the good of others.

I have attached a copy of another photo taken at Eastney Barracks which may be of interest. My father is in the second row, far left.

Also, there are 2 photos which belonged to my father of two fellow Royal Marines. I do not know their surnames, but the photo of the Royal Marine with the children has written on the back ? "Ted with kids". There is a hand written message to my father on the other photo.
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It's fantastic that you've both been able to pool your knowledge and come up with so much information for each other.

Thank you both for sharing it all with us.
This thread has just proved the value of the Forum for those trying to research their relatives. We (the CVA Research Group) can usually only point people in the right directions and provide general snippets of information, but the real leg work has to be done, to a greater extent, by the individual.
But by posting everything on here means that someone else may happen along - sometimes years later - and find the key to their research.

Thanks again.

Nick

Nick Collins

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Proud son of Cpl Mick Collins, 5 Troop, No5 Cdo

"We may feel that nothing of which we have any knowledge or record has ever been done by mortal men, which surpasses their feats of arms. Truly we may say of them, when shall their glory fade?"


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Hi again. After seeing your reply, I downloaded the two pictures you have found of possible comrades of your father and showed them too my father on 13/02/2016.

He immediately recognised the two men in the photo's and had a big smile. Un-fortunately, he wasn't feeling very strong at the time (he is at this present time 93 years old and in poor health) so was unable to speak much about them. I strongly suspect that they were all 'mates' as part of either the same LCM crew, or the 'wider' group of men in the flotilla. I shall ask him again at a future date as and when he feels stronger. There is no telling what he remembers as time passes and over the years He has come out with odd little stories or facts as something jogs his memory.

A couple of weeks ago, I found his old leather wallet with odd pictures inside, from his time in the Marines. On the inside was inked MARINE A G LANDERYOU BOMBAY 1945 PO/X113269 ARTHUR GORDON LANDERYOU being his full name. I will attach some pictures at the end of this post that I have found over the years, with the hope that they prove helpful too others in some way or form. you never know who might look at them In the years ahead and recognise someone, just like I did with your original post.

The following information is all that I can remember my father telling me and my two brothers over the past years before and during the time, He went into care. Hopefully, he will regain strength to some degree and be able to add something in the near future.

My father volunteered for wartime service on his 18th birthday (19/12/41) but due too the sheer amount of men being trained, He wasn't 'called up' until about seven months later, at which time He was given the choice of "your going into the Marines lad, sea service or commando's". He fancied being on a ship at that time, so sea service it was.

Before that time from the age of 16, He was working with a local building firm constructing 6" gun emplacements in Carmarthen Bay, Burry Port, as this is where He was born and brought up. He also helped paint the runway green, at the local RAF PEMBREY base, with the surrounding grass being painted black. I asked him if they runway 'stood out' anyway, being painted a different colour too the surrounding grass, but other than thinking it a bit odd at the time He didn't remember anyone else coming too the same conclusion. Many daft things were done during the war.

He also planted grass on top of the ammunition bunkers (large mounds of sand) at the local Pembrey Nobel explosives factory, which covered approx. 600 acres of land. The mounds are still there and can be visited in the now PEMBREY COUNTRY PARK site. The entrances too the magazines can just be picked-out on Google earth, if you know what to look for.

His actual wartime experiences. Due too the way He told us the stories etc. of His wartime memories, I will try to keep them in some sort of order as the time passed, but maybe someone will be able to put dates too certain events as they are told, as He was un-sure as to some of the exact dates himself of certain events.

Actually called-up on July 29, 1942. the picture was taken on 25 September of that same year, at Eastney Barraks, Portsmouth. 'X' marks the spot over my fathers' head. My father 'got on' with the training and had a fairly good time of it himself. The training was hard for all the men of course, but there was no point moaning about it so on the whole, the men just got on with it. Many friendships were made during that time, some of which lasted for their whole service period, being sent too the same Flotilla afterwards. There was the occasion when He bent his bayonet during practice. Upon seeing this the sergeant told him "well done marine, go and get another one". On another occasion they all took turns to be put into a 'straight jacket' with all the buckles fastened. They had to wear it for an hour each, after which it was the next mans turn.

This was so they could get used to possible interrogation if captured by the Germans apparently. I wonder if the Germans actually had enough straight jackets on hand, for any captured Marines, who were obviously considered dangerous enough to warrant the use of such garments of restraint. The training with these implements was accompanied with the words "NOW YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE IN A STRAIGHT JACKET". No further advice on interrogation techniques and resistance was ever offered.

On another occasion, the men were on parade and the training sergeant asked "am I hurting you marine...(no sergeant being my fathers' reply)..WELL I SHOULD BE 'COS I'M STANDING ON YOUR HAIR..GET YOUR BLOODY HAIR CUT!!". Haircuts were needed every two weeks apparently. Also BLINKING on parade was classed as moving while on parade, with the shout of "WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO MOVE YOU 'ORRIBLE MARINE!!..YOUR ON A CHARGE!! being often heard. I'm sure old soldiers everywhere have similar tales to tell of their own training. An American Marine General was going to visit one day (Arthur never got the name of the actual man) so "advice" was given to the Marines if they were questioned by the said General. "if he asks you anything about your training...or anything at all..tell him anything...tell him a load of bullsh*t..he won't know the answer anyway"

Such was the Marine method of preparing the men for an encounter with a VIP. Learning to swim had a similar 'Marine Method' to it. Anyone who couldn't swim were lined-up on the edge of the pool and thrown in one at a time. They were then pushed back under by the training corporal with a long bamboo pole, each time they surfaced. On the third time of surfacing, they were each told "now you know what it's like to drown..LEARN TO SWIM". Arthur was one of those men who couldn't swim, so after the 'training' was over, one of his mates who could swim, stayed with him afterwards and taught him how to swim that evening.

Food wasn't very plentiful and one man didn't like it, so ate next to nothing for the first few days of training. His food was duly shared amongst the other men, until the fourth day, when the man ate everything in front of him from then on. My father ate any food he could get, just like the other men. Often He used to say over the years "I used to eat mud..get it down you" if someone didn't want to eat the food put in front of them as we were growing up. Even now when someone complains about something, I say "my father used to eat mud, so what have you got to complain about".

At some point in September of 1942, the men were sent to Fort Gomer. See the pic attached with the arrow above my fathers head. The original picture is out of focus unfortunately.

After their first period of training, the men went on leave (I am not sure how long this first training period would have been) On the first day back after leave, one of the men couldn't take any more of the stress of it all, and for whatever reason, committed suicide by using his rifle to shoot himself in the head. My father remembered the fuss at the time and that the bullet went upwards through at least two floors and the roof of the building they were barracked in. He didn't know the mans' name however and didn't see the mans body at all. He did however hear the shot and saw the holes in the floors, ceilings and roof.

He once mentioned the time he spent in barracks in Deal, Kent. During his stay at this camp, there was a 6" naval gun not far from the actual barracks, which would 'bang off' a few rounds across the channel at odd times. He remembers the glass would break in the windows each time, as no warning would be given so there was no time to open the windows to hopefully save the glass. He also remembers the Germans would return fire with their own gun, fortunately missing anything important (and anyone!!). Oddly, the Germans only returned fire when they were fired at first, so the men stationed at the camp would make a fuss about firing the gun this side of the channel first, only to "get one back" as it were. Arthur Remembers it was a 6" gun on their side that did the firing, so I wonder just how "modern" it actually was for the time, as the maximum range on most guns of this size were usually not that great for their day. Maybe someone will have an idea as to what type it could have been and maybe post their idea's on the subject?

My father also remembers training on the beach in Deal, wearing a bullet proof vest. The men had to run up and down the beach for four hours, after which the vests were handed back, never to be seen again. Maybe someone wanted to see how troops would fare wearing such items in hard going? It was also during this time period that the flotilla took part in a training film, so maybe there is a reel of film somewhere on a shelf gathering dust, showing the men of 651 Flotilla on their LCM's.

Before D-Day, the Flotilla were sent to different camps/ports all along the south coast, at which they were all given injections against different diseases. This happened at EVERY new camp however, even if they were only at the previous camp for a week or two, injections would be given AGAIN on their arrival at each new camp.

Army personnel would usually be given a day or two off from training to recover. The Marines were sent on a route march each time instead, during which they would be expected to collapse and be put on a truck back too base. Any man that collapsed WOULDN'T be put on a charge, as it was expected that they WOULD collapse. The only other choice they had was to be put on guard duty permanently, UNTIL they collapsed. All the Marines of 651 Flotilla went through this at that time apparently.

For D-DAY, they were issued with special personal weapons for their protection, some sort of sten gun. They were under strict instructions "NOT TO FIRE THE WEAPONS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES..AS THEY WILL JAM AND BLOW-UP...KILLING YOU" Such was the quality of said type of sten guns issued. I'm sure my father has other odd little tales to tell of this period, but they are for the moment, tucked away in his memory waiting to be re-visited.

He remembered the actual start of the bombardment of the French coast on D-DAY, as the whole horizon lit up like a wall of fire. He, along with the other men on the LCM, were in the process of taking a small truck and field gun of the Canadian Artillery too JUNO beach. He said the other men on the LCM were all sick, but that He wasn't sick at all and never was while on the LCM for some reason, during his whole time in service. The truck and field gun were put onto the beach at 7.30 am, after which they went back for more troops. The noise was terrific from the guns firing and the shells screaming overhead. It was during this morning that my Fathers LCM was moving in front of HMS ROBERTS, on their way with more troops for JUNO beach when HMS ROBERTS, a 15" gunned monitor, opened fire and blew the LCM sideways through the air for a number of yards, nearly sinking the craft. Such was the power of the blast wave from the old battleship guns. There was a big fuss about it afterwards apparently, as the ship shouldn't have fired with ANY craft so close to it, in the line of fire. It is also the moment that my father lost his hearing in his left ear, as did some of the other men on board most likely. At least they didn't drown. The two 15" guns can be seen outside the Imperial War Museum today (the two barrels and one breech block, the other breech block being a model used for training only) As they were taken off HMS ROBERTS when she was scrapped, they being the last examples in existence at the time.

It was in the afternoon of D-DAY that my father and the rest of the crew finally got to put their feet on JUNO beach. It was also the first time my father saw a dead body, that of a Canadian soldier. He remembers the man lying on the sand with a small bullet wound in his left cheek, with the whole back of his head missing. He saw several dead bodies after that during the rest of the day, on that part of the beach. He also saw inside a German pillbox with the machinegun crew still inside, around their gun. They had wooden bullets in the ammunition belt still in the gun (they were a sort of red coloured wood) Wooden bullets were used for target practice by the German army and I suggested too him many years ago that maybe they had run out of 'normal' bullets during the Canadian attack and had to use what they had to hand (practice bullets)

He said that this may well have been the case, as German re-supply would have been most likely impossible with the bombardment going on. However, He did remember the fuss made a few years after the war, about the Germans using so called 'DUM DUM' bullets during the landings (which the then German authorities denied) so the practice bullets used may well have been the cause of so many terrible wounds. Hitting a man with a wooden bullet is actually worse at short range than using a steel bullet apparently, as it disintegrates on contact.

He also remembered seeing the French women inside the machinegun bunker with their German boyfriends. All were dead of course. No doubt they were too afraid to leave the "safety" of the bunker when the shelling started. They died at the same time as the German soldiers when the bunker was knocked-out by the Canadians.

My father and his mates then walked about the seaside houses which were wrecked from blast etc. When you see the old film of the Canadian attack and the man opens the armoured door of the LCA (landing craft assault) a windowless house is in full view of the camera, that is the house my father walked around inside with his mates. He saw it for the first time (since the war) on the WORLD AT WAR series and recognised it straight away. Ever since we have called it ARTHUR'S HOUSE among the family, just to pull his leg. He also went inside a local café and "liberated" some hand painted post cards of the area, which I still have. There are three in all.

The following day, 7th June, a large group of LCM's were lashed together and taken back too England for repair, some were from the 651 Flotilla. Some had working engines and some only working rudders. Lashed together in a large group, they were self powering and self steering in that manner. Everyone waved to them and said how lucky they were to be going home. A few days later, after the 'great storm' hit, the bodies of those same men washed up on the beaches of Normandy and my father and the rest had to help clear them away.

Churchill went past the LCM my father was on and waved too him and the other crewmembers as he passed. They all laughed and cheered and gave him two fingers back.

It was on or about 8th June that my father saw a fighter plane fly over JUNO beach, when someone on the beach started firing at the allied fighter. The pilot was obviously annoyed at this behaviour from his own side, as he promptly turned around and strafed the beach himself. He said the plane was mostly silver in colour (un-painted alloy) so was most likely American. He only did the one 'run' and nobody was hit by bullets fortunately. On another occasion a (hopefully) German plane flew overhead and everyone with a gun was firing at it. One of the crew was in the 'well deck' of the LCM, which by then had had a LEWIS MACHINE GUN fitted on a post for self protection from aircraft. He promptly fired the gun at the plane, following the target as it flew around in a big circle. This is when the bullets from said machine gun started to hit the metal conning tower of the LCM, with Johnno inside screaming for him to cease fire. My father was up by the bows of the LCM when this happened, so was out of the immediate line of fire but saw it happening.

One evening, as dusk was setting in, they saw a parachute out over the channel. No other craft were near and nobody seemed to be making an effort to go to the rescue of the airman. Johnno may have still been in charge of the LCM at the time, but I am not sure on this point as he left Normandy after two weeks I think. Anyway, it was decided to try to get too him, whoever he was and they set off in the general direction. The wind was blowing the airman away from the LCM, while the craft itself wasn't making much headway into the waves. Dusk gave way to night time and they never got close to the man in the parachute, whoever he was and whatever side he was on. They had intended to lower the ramp a few feet and drag the airman on board that way, but it wasn't to be. My father always wondered what happened to that airman and was one of the many regrets he had of the whole war, whether or not he had drowned due too their failure to reach him. Countless aircraft passed overhead during those months, day and night.

Volunteers were asked for at some point, as a destroyer of the Free French Navy (I think it was French) had hit a sea mine, causing terrible damage. The crew were in no state to help with the damage control/clear up afterwards, so volunteers were called for from local forces to help in the rescue efforts. My father and his mates all volunteered and they went on board to see what was needed to be done. The destruction was massive (I think I read somewhere that a sea mine set-off the forward magazine of the ship in question?) Anyway, the bodies of sailors were tangled in the wreckage and the rescue volunteers had to clear them out. Many had been wrapped in steel, as the ladders they were on at the time of the explosion were forced upwards by the blast. My father said everything was red.

After a few weeks of being left to their own devices ferrying men and supplies, they were put under the overall command of an officer who was quite mad. The other men of the squadron had warned them about him beforehand, as he had the habit of lining-up new men on the beach, holding a pair of gloves in front of their faces and asking each man "what do you smell marine"? too which the correct reply was "cordite sir". The officer would then reply "correct", then move too the next man in line and repeat the question. It turned out that the gloves had belonged too this officers' brother, who had been blown-up while wearing the gloves. The dead officers' brother had then been presented with the gloves as the last remains of his dead brother, the smell of the explosive (cordite) still being on the gloves. This had seemingly 'turned' his mind.

He was deemed essentially harmless, but after that few took notice of his orders afterwards and he was treated with some sympathy by the other men and officers, who made sure he didn't cause any real harm. This man once had a lift on the LCM my father was on and upon reaching the beach where the ramp was then lowered, proceeded to charge the beach with revolver in hand shouting "follow me chaps". Everyone on the crew just looked daft at him and wondered where he was going. It wasn't as if they could leave their landing craft without a crew, so they weren't going to charge off anywhere.

The crews of the Flotilla then made camp near a German strong point a week or so after D-DAY, digging into the beach sand for protection (a fox hole) They then noticed shelling was coming in from the German side quite accurately, though few casualties were caused by it. Someone went inside the knocked-out German strongpoint and noticed the range clock painted on the wall inside, showing all the other pill boxes and strong points along the beach. This meant that every other German strongpoint knew where to aim to protect every other strong point. This was then pointed out to the officers in charge, as the nearby pillbox was drawing German artillery fire, it now being in "enemy hands". The advice given back was "DIG DEEPER HOLES AND YOU'LL BE ALL RIGHT".

A sniper was taking shots at the beach (the men) and a Marine of the flotilla happened to be looking in the right direction when the German sniper fired a shot off (he saw the muzzle flash of the rifle) He then reported what he had seen, after which a Boffors anti aircraft gun was used to fire one round at the church spire of the local village. I think the church was in Berniers-sur-mer? Anyway, a hole appeared in the church spire when the shell hit it and no more sniper fire came from that particular position apparently.

A flying bomb was seen going the wrong way (back towards where it came from) and everyone on the beach cheered it and waved, including my father. Nobody took a shot at it and I have always wondered myself if that was the one that landed not far from where Hitler had his headquarters at that time, the eventual landing and explosion of which prompted him to move his headquarters a much greater distance away from Normandy.

My father's squadron then set-up base in Courseulles-sur-Mer harbour, where the landing craft could be 'beached' on a side of the harbour each time the tide went out. This allowed maintenance to be carried out if needed. On one such day my father was 'mooching about' with not a lot to do at that time of day, when he noticed an officer standing by the propellers of one of the LCM's. He then went over and asked this officer what he was doing, the reply was "WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE YOU SILLY MAN..." It turned out the officer was cutting the body of one of the Marines of the squadron, off from around the propeller shaft and had blood all over his arms and upper body as a result. (as red as a butcher, my father described the officer) Apparently the Marine had been blown overboard by a near miss and been sucked down into the propeller.

My father apologised for not realising what the officer was doing, as he had only been able to see the legs of the officer and his lower body, not what he was actually doing. He then stayed with the officer and they talked while the task of removing the body of the Marine was completed. After that, they struck up a friendship and often after roll call in the mornings, the order "Marine Landeryou fall out for special duty" would be given, after which my father and this officer would go off and chat about things. I should say that people have often said of my father over the years, that He could talk too the Devil and get him to see the error of his ways. This officer obviously couldn't say things too anyone else in authority, or he may have got into trouble. In any case their friendship lasted for the rest of my fathers stay in France (the November of 1944) I think the officer had the surname of MARQUISTER?

It was while stationed in the port that often the local French men would bring their wives along for a walk along the sea wall and to see the English men!! One habit the French men insisted on and which never failed to give the young men of the Marines quite a shock, was the habit of urinating into the harbour in front of everybody, including their wives. The Marines never could work out why they did this, as they would never dream of doing it themselves back home.

Marines often go on patrol when their main task is finished. On one such patrol through the fields of France, my father was leading the patrol along the banks of a canal. He happened to look down at the narrow tow path he was walking along, when he noticed a trip-wire across the path, part hidden by grass. He immediately stopped and warned the men behind him of the wire. A bomb disposal team was called for and the area checked out for more booby-traps. It was while the patrol was some distance away from the spot that the trip-wire was activated and a huge bang went off. My father has said that while he stood there waiting for the bomb disposal team, with the wire almost touching his foot, was the one time he was genuinely afraid of being killed. On another patrol they came across a German tank that had been knocked-out. It was on a narrow road and mostly blocking it.

when they climbed onto it and looked into the drivers position, the hole that had been made in the wheel on the side, carried on through the side of the body of the tank, roughly where the drivers knees would have been. This was why the tank had been stopped where it was, as obviously the driver had most likely been killed instantly or at the very least, lost both his legs before bleeding to death. My father and the rest didn't feel any real sense of elation or revenge at the time, only the thought of having such a terrible thing happen to themselves. From his description of the hole in the outside road wheel that carried the track, it's height and position in relation too the drivers knees, I strongly suspect it was either a German Panther or Tiger tank, both of which have large wheels carrying the tracks. The other tanks used by the Germans all had small wheels, so the anti-tank round would not have gone through the wheel first. It was also a large vehicle as he recalled, with a lot of room inside the turret.

Some days later He, along with his mates were watching a CRAB tank (a rotating flail on the front to set off mines) some distance along the beach. He estimated the distance at the time to have been about one quarter of a mile. The tank had been clearing the beach of mines for the whole morning, without much success at finding any mines. Suddenly, there was a huge explosion and shrapnel was heard flying past them where they were standing, making whizzing noises as it went. They hit the deck pretty quickly after that but they were very lucky not to be killed where they stood. The tank then carried on as if nothing had happened, but He said they were quite sure the tank crew had just had a major fright.

They saw the American planes going overhead many times, in their hundreds. Taking hours to all fly past them towards Germany. They saw many planes returning flying low with holes in them. They heard the British thousand bomber raids and felt the ground shake non-stop, wondering when it would end. they saw many things that boggled the mind for size and scale.

Some of the smaller things I have written above did not happen in the order of writing. But I have tried to keep them in the right order of my fathers experiences in France, as He told me. I think I have made a fair stab at the timeline of events. After France He was sent too the far east, but wasn't supposed to be there. His name wasn't being called out during morning roll call on the troopship, so after a few days He approached the sergeant and asked why. Enquiries were made and it turned out he was supposed to be back in England.

651 Flotilla had been given orders to go too Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was called then) then on too India, along with their LCM's. My father went with his mates and squadron as someone might expect when given orders to move out of France. Nobody told him he was being sent somewhere else at the time. He hadn't even been reported AWOL by anyone in Britain. He was then given the choice of being sent home too England on the next returning troopship, or staying with his squadron (and his mates) He chose to stay with the squadron and his mates, then went on to see action in India, Burma, Malaya, the assault on Ramree Island and the Japanese surrender of Singapore, as mentioned in my earlier post.

If He had gone back too England , possibly He would have been sent too Holland for the assault on one of the ports there, where the Marines had a hammering. His cousin was killed in action in Holland, only a few weeks before the war ended, while assaulting the same port. Who can say what fate brings. The escapades He went through in France were just one story of his time in the marines, while the time spent in the Far East has it's own tale to tell, as hinted at in my earlier post. Many men had similar experiences as my father, many even more gruesome in the telling. Some funnier. I take my hat off to all of them and hope anyone reading this post hasn't been bored or think the writing has been too long. It's hard to tell it all quickly, as so many things happen in war as in life. The events described above were experienced by my father, but also all his mates were there at the same time, having the same experiences, the good and the bad. If a relative doesn't want to talk about things that happened in the war (any war) they most likely have their reasons.

My parents were offered a free hotel and a boat trip on the River Rhine in the 1980's, when his health was good. They would only need to take spending money for food etc.

My father is not a vindictive man and never has been. He doesn't hold a grudge and no one has a bad word to say about him. He has been a friend to some after terrible accidents and their only visitor. To others he has been a man to call upon for help or advice, dropping what he was doing at a moments notice.

His reply and ONLY comment to the offer of the free holiday before walking away was "No...there's Germans' there".







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This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 15/02/2016 02:25:28


MAD, I'M NOT MAD...MY BROTHER'S MAD...I'M A TRAIN!!
 
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