“Feet Wet”

Memoires of Alan Mc Quillin: RAF 3206 Servicing Commando

…we were given French Francs and our English money was taken from us. We were issued with different amounts, depending on your rank

“Progress across the Channel was slow due to the volume of traffic heading for the shores of Normandy. Around 02:00 Alan was awoken when the LCT in front of his was attacked by E-boats. His LCT first saw france at around 04:30 but ” …there was a hell of a que”

Feet wet in France

We landed at around 11:00 on June 7th 1944. The tide and wind had pushed our LCT westwards. Instead of landing at SWORD BEACH we landed at JUNO BEACH”.

Although they could see shelling ahead, by now the beach was relatively quiet, and C Flight had little problem driving ashore and up the narrow road leading inland; but they weren`t expected…..

“An MP told us that we weren`t on his list, and to ‘get out of the way’, so we drove into a field. Here we pondered where the rest of the Flight had set up camp. The following morning, 8th June, our Officer and Sgt went off in a Jeep to find them.”

The Flight was found at forward airfield B3, near St.Croix-sur-Mer, Banville. C Flight rejoined the rest of the Commando, and for the first time in France the Flight was together.

The perils of a blue-suit

The RAF blue uniform re-issued to Alan`s Flight almost proved fatal during a foraging trip while in Normandy. Alan explained;

…..we were in the Canadian sector, and a couple of fellows had gone across to one of the barns looking for eggs from the chickens there. The dust from around the airfield had settled on our uniforms, changing its appearance slightly.

Returning from the barn, the guys were nearly fired upon by the Canadians – who had mistaken their dusty RAF uniforms for the field grey German uniforms.  Luckily no-one was hurt.

….most of us were young, daft and fit. We were excited about our new role and enjoyed the training.

Alan`s RAF travels

Alan served at eight forward landing strips in Normandy, before returning to Andover in the UK.

In December ’44 he boarded the first all RAF troop ship ( with approx 4000 men and 400 WRAFs aboard), bound for Ceylon in the Indian Ocean. Following a stint at Bombay Alan moved to Calcutta and then to the ‘Armada Road’ base about 120mls from the city.

In Sept ’45, a month after VJ Day Alan and his Flight landed at ‘Morib Beach’ in Malaya, the planned beach for an Allied assault before the Japanese surrender. Alan told me: “….it was a good thing that we never attacked this beach. We would have been cut to pieces. The place was crawling with defences.”

After 3 weeks in Malaya Alan was posted to Batavia (now Jakata) in Indionesia which was in a power-vacum, with heavily armed rival gangs fighting for power. Here he was employed on the aircraft bringing home POWs ad Dutch civilians, who had been interned by the Japanese. Here he carried on loading C47 Dakotas and Spitfires ” ….as if the war was still going on”.

In January ’46 the unit was broken up and Alan was posted to HQ at Sourabia. In June Alan`s demob-number came up and he began his journey back to civilian life. He made his way back to Suropia “…to see if there was a plane available”. After 2 weeks he was able to hitchhike on a plane bound for Batavia and after a further two weeks made it to Singapore, from where he was confident he could get a boat home.

Alan was suprised to hear that “…..there are 10,000 people ahead of you in the que”. After a further 2-3 weeks in Singapore Alan was able to get passage home on the ‘Monach of Bermuda’. Alan`s war was over….