D-Day Landing — Eric Allsop — 2nd June 2014.

Eric was a young man of eight­een and work­ing at Husband’s in Sheffield when he volun­teered to join up.  He hoped that by doing so, he would be able to choose the unit. He joined the Royal Engineers think­ing that this unit would keep him out of ser­i­ous con­flict.  Each sapper had to have a trade and Eric elec­ted to be a sapper sur­veyor. He under­went intens­ive train­ing at vari­ous sites in England learn­ing how to remove mines.  His role, after train­ing, was to san­it­ise beaches and clear them of mines and explos­ive devices.  His unit spent time prac­tising on the south coast and, when train­ing was com­pleted, they were sta­tioned at Southampton Common wait­ing for the ships to assemble.

Eric’s unit was com­bined with Canadian groups, includ­ing the Winnipeg Rifles and the Chaudiere.  The latter group was renowned for hating the English and other Canadian troops more than the Germans.  Other units along­side Eric’s were the REME and the Pioneer Corps, the latter having the job of body-bagging any sol­dier killed in the first wave so as not to put off the sol­diers fol­low­ing behind in the next wave.

It took eight days to load the ship before depar­ture.  The ship car­ried 1800 assault troops and it took 18 land­ing craft three trips to get all the men ashore.  The first batch were lowered in the land­ing craft from the ship’s davits but sub­sequent land­ing craft were loaded with men who had to scramble down nets to board them.  Many men were killed and injured due to the heavy kit they car­ried.  Seasickness was rife and affected many during the trip to shore in the land­ing craft.  On land­ing the water was knee deep and Eric car­ried a rifle,  large  mine detector and a bat­tery weigh­ing 40 lbs.  His equip­ment was so heavy that he had to dump the bat­tery and pick it up later.

Eric landed on Juno beach.  There was a gap between Juno beach and Gold Beach that nobody had known about.  Peering over one of the sand dunes they saw three Germans who sur­rendered.  Eric’s unit was being shot at from the side so Eric went to find some back up and brought tanks and bull­dozers to fill the gap.  One tank fell into a ditch so they covered it with rubble in order to make a better access road.  Thirty years later the tank was dug up  and is now dis­played on a plinth on the road to Graye sur Mer.

Eric san­it­ised the beach, it took him six weeks.  One thou­sand, seven hun­dred mines were put into a German pill­box which was then blown up!  A mine museum was set up after the war dis­play­ing all the dif­fer­ent types of mines used at the time.

Our thanks go to Eric for the part he played and for ensur­ing a better future for all of us