CD41 Recordings

CD41-014 Audio CD £12.50 + shipping
ISBN: 978-0-9554335-1-1

A 145 minute double CD anthology of rare archive recordings from the D-Day landings (June 6th 1944) and the subsequent Battle of Normandy. As well as addresses from Allied commanders such as Churchill, Montgomery and Eisenhower, the recordings include personal accounts by Victoria Cross winner Stanley Hollis of the Green Howards, Typhoon pilot Peter West, Captain W.R. Sendall of 48 Commando, Lance Corporal Lewis Emery of the Parachute Regiment and French resistance operative Andre. Also featured are a host of war correspondents including Richard Dimbleby, Frank Gillard, Chester Wilmot, Robin Duff, Guy Byam, Matthew Halton and Stanley Maxted.

The events covered range from preparations for Overlord to the airborne and beach landings on 6 June, and the push inland from Gold, Juno and Sword toward Caen, including astonishing actually battle recordings from Tilly-sur-Seules and the opening stages of Operation Epsom. The double CD closes with two rare German propaganda recordings intended to discourage the invasion troops. The CD booklet features detailed recording and historical notes by James Hayward and archive images. Carefully digitally restored, the album is an absolute must for all historians and researchers, as well as collectors of archive broadcast recordings.

CD tracklist: (disc one) Winston Churchill; address by General Montgomery; D-Day preparations; embarkation of troops; on a troopship; fighter bomber briefing; airborne troops taking off; coded Resistance broadcast; French sabotage; 6th Airborne Division jump into action; steaming towards France; glider landing; B25 Mitchell over Channel; 25 + 5 minutes to H-Hour; in an infantry landing craft; news announcement; beach-head landing; Commando attacks on St Aubin and Langrune; Juno beach - Canadian troops; Gold Beach Victoria Cross; airborne reinforcements; address by General Eisenhower; beach-head fighting and wounded, MTBs engage E-boats; (disc two) damage to coastal towns; principal Beach Master; 6th Airborne Division; address by General Bernard Montgomery; Typhoon low level attack; beach-head conditions; B25 raid on 21 Panzer Division; beach-head Mosquito patrol; HMS Warspite bombardment; Normandy landing strip; airmail to Normandy; church bells in Normandy; King's visit to Normandy; Normandy battlefront; fighting towards Caen; Derby Day afloat; Battle of Tilly; Tilly after capture; gale damage - beach-head; Epsom - advance towards Granville; never a dull moment; Calling Invasion Forces; Atlantic Wall.

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Reviews: "These carefully restored archive recordings add up to a detailed account of the first month of the Second Front, with explanatory notes and archive images. Recommended" (Best of British, 12/2006); "Fascinating - the content is very absorbing, and certain to please historic aviation enthusiasts" (Flypast, 04/2007)

Sleevenote by James Hayward

"This is the day, and this is the hour"

In December 1943 General Dwight D. Eisenhower was appointed Supreme Allied Commander to lead the invasion of Europe, with General Bernard Montgomery commanding his armies in the field as head of 21st Army Group. Monty lead all the land forces employed in the invasion (code-named Operation Overlord), while Eisenhower directed the overall prosecution of the war in north-west Europe. Two separate armies landed in Normandy on 6 June 1944. The First US Army under General Omar Bradley landed on the western beaches (Utah and Omaha), while the British Second Army (including Canadian forces) under Lieutenant Miles Dempsey landed to the east, on the beaches conde-named Gold, Juno and Sword. Both flanks were supported by substantial airborne landings (three divisions).

Eisenhower's deputy was Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder, while the naval and air commanders with also British: Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, and Air Chief Marshal Sir Trafford Leigh-Mallory.

On the morning of 6 June 1944 the landings were made over a 59 mile front. An armada of 5000 ships landed 150,000 troops on the first day, while the first airborne lift delivered 23,000 men.

The Allies suffered approximately 10,000 casualties on D-Day, of which some 2500 were fatalities. This was a quarter of the number feared by SHAEF, which itself was half the 20,000 feared by Churchill.

BBC War Reporting - June 1944:
In War Report (1946) Desmond Hawkins wrote that: "War Report was first broadcast on the BBC's Home Service after the 9 o'clock news on D-Day, June 6th 1944. It was a link between the civilian and the services, a window on the war through which the combatant and the folk at home could catch a glimpse of each other. The demand for news and eyewitness reports on D-Day would clearly be insatiable. Every phase of the departure from Britain had to be covered, in both speech and sound recordings; a substantial task normally, but now dwarfed by the difficulty of devising rapid transmission of news across the Channel in the first hours of the battle for the beaches. The landing of a quarter-kilowatt transmitter was planned to take place about a week after the first assault; until then correspondents would have to use a variety of methods to communicate with London. There might be opportunities to use the three operation transmitters which the army hoped to establish on D-Day. Secret transmission points in the south coast area were held ready for correspondents returning to Britain with eyewitness stories. The recording units were installed in ships, and there was a service by military couriers for written dispatches and recording made on land.

A portable midget recorder, designed by BBC engineers, had already been tested in action at Anzio, and it was to prove its value on the Western Front. This portable recording unit, weighing only 40 lb, was the lightest in the world. It carried twelve double-sided disks giving a total of more than one hour's recording; a microphone on a spring-clip could be attached to anything from a branch of a tree to the rim of a steel helmet, and the detachable dry battery unit was ready wired to plug in with a single connector. Operation was so simple that anyone could use it without the assistance of an engineer - unlike the truck unit, which weighed about 500 lb and needed a technician.

This early use of voice recordings raised the greatest security difficulties, as it meant that uncensored material must pass from the battle-zone to England. Later, when transmitters and censors were established in France, it was a simple matter to censor a dispatch before it was transmitted to London. But in the first stages of the invasion such arrangements were impossible; fortunately the military authorities were y now sufficiently persuaded of the importance of radio reporting to permit recordings to be handled in Broadcasting house before submission to the censors. As the messages came 'up the line' they were recorded, telediphoned, and sent as scripts to the censors. After censorship, new recordings were made without the censored passages, and the original disks were then stored in conditions of secrecy. The transmission of news on and immediately after D-Day was much faster than would otherwise have been possible, and there was no leakage of secret information.

On the night of June 17th/18th the first of the BBC's mobile transmitters, known by the code-name of MCO or 'Mike Charlie Oboe', put in at Arromanches, the 3-ton truck plunging into four feet of water. In a matter of hours MCO's aerials were erected, and from the studio (which was merely a tent to keep out the wind), the first dispatches were broadcast direct to LondonÖ. The next day the tent gave place to a more substantial studio in a 14th century castle at Creully."

Extract from a broadcast made by the British Prime Minister on 26 March 1944. "Since I spoke to you last..."

General Sir Bernard Montgomery, speaking as commander of 21st Army Group. Recorded late in the afternoon of 5 June 1944. Monty wrote in 1945: "I think it is right to say that they key-note of this campaign was the Crusading Spirit, which inspired all ranks of the AEF, and which enabled them to face up to the great and often continues demands which were made on their energy and enthusiasm and courage. The Spirit had many and deep sources, and the BBC was one of the means by which this Spirit was fostered. In this way these correspondents made no mean contribution to the final Victory."

BBC war correspondent Frank Gillard describes preparations for the Second Front in the South of England. Recorded 4 June 1944. "England has become one vast ordnance dump and field park," Gillard later recalled: "I drove 100 miles across southern England and it was incredible. Wherever you looked, literally, anywhere there was any kind of cover - in the hedgerows, in people's private gardens - there were military vehicles, trucks, ambulances, ambulances, tanks, armoured cars, carriers, jeeps, bulldozers, DUKWs. And, of course, there were endless columns of soldiers. In one place there was a bit of clear ground and there were a couple of dozen Tommies in their uniforms and their heavy boots having a knock-up game of cricket, and I couldn't help thinking of Drake and Plymouth Hoe. I hoped that the outcome of our adventure was going to be as successful as his."

Quay-side commentary by Colin Wills describing the embarkation of the first Allied troops, including renditions of For Me and My Girl, Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Goodbye and It's a Long Way to Tipperary. Recorded 3 June 1944. Operation Overlord was originally scheduled for Monday 5 June, but delayed for 24 hours by severe weather. Many men were obliged to remain on sealed vessels for several days, and were seasick even before the armada left port.

Recordings made on board a sealed troopship, waiting to sail for Normandy. Recorded 4 June 1944. The troops pass the time with a quiz, and prayers. By 5 June some 287,000 men and a host of armoured fighting vehicles had been pre-loaded into a fleet of 5000 ships.

Stewart MacPherson reports from the briefing room of a Second Tactical Air Force (2 TAF) base in the south of England, recorded 5 June 1944. Here Canadian pilots are briefed by a Wing Commander, who emphasises the need to maintain air superiority over the Normandy assault area. In fact the Luftwaffe had fewer than 150 fighter aircraft in Northern France and the Low Countries in June 1944, as opposed to 850 defending Germany against the Allied bombing campaign. On 6 June the Luftwaffe managed only a handful of fighter sweeps along the landing beaches, and only about 300 sorties over the whole of Normandy. The Allies had 5000 fighter aircraft available to ensure that the invasion area was sealed off from the rest of France.

Commentary by Richard Dimbleby as paratroopers of the 6th Airborne Division leave England on board troop carrying aircraft, bound for drop zones behind Ouistreham and Sword Beach, recorded 5 June 1944. One of the aircraft watched by Dimbleby carried his fellow war correspondent, Guy Byam (see below). The task of the 6th Airborne was to establish a bridgehead across the River Orne and the Caen Canal, midway between the strategic city of Caen and the Normandy coast, and to protect the eastern flank of the seaborne landings. Specific tasks included the seizure of the Benouville (Pegasus) and Ranville (Horsa) bridges, and the destruction of the heavy German battery at Merville. The first airborne pathfinder aircraft took off from Harwell at 23.03 on 5 June; the first transports and gliders left airfields in southern England at about 23.30 hours, landing in France an hour later.

The BBC transmitter situated at Droitwich broadcast coded messages to the French Resistance (FFI) in occupied Europe. These orders were coded using simple messages, repeated in turn to allow the FFI to record and monitor the instructions. including sabotage or rendezvous information. Several hundred 'messages personnels' were transmitted by the BBC at each broadcast, many of them false codes masking the ones that were actually significant. At the beginning of June, the first line of a poem by Paul Verlaine,"Chanson d'Automne", was transmitted. "Les sanglots longs des violons de l'automne" - this alerted FFI in the Orleans region to attack rail targets within the next few days. The second line, "Blessent mon coeur d'une langueur monotone" was transmitted late on June 5, warning that the invasion was imminent.

Broadcast by 'Andre', a member of the French resistance (FFI), describing the sabotage of a German communications cable on the eve of D-Day. Recorded 12 August 1944. Other groups were tasked with attacking roads, railway lines, telephone exchanges, electricity substations, etc. On 5 June 2006 more than 1000 acts of sabotage were carried out by various Resistance units. The signal to act, broadcast by the BBC's French service, quoted the first six lines of the poem Autumn Leaves by Paul Verlaine.

Despatch by BBC war correspondent Guy Byam, who jumped over Normandy during the overnight assault with paratroops of the 6th Airborne Division. Recorded 8 June 1944. He describes prayers, emplaning, the (standing-room only) flight to Normandy, anti-aircraft fire, the jump into action, finding himself lost on landing, and asking for directions at a French farmhouse. Guy Byam had already survived the sinking of HMS Jervis Bay by the German pocket Admiral Scheer in 1940, and later jumped into Arnhem, but was killed during a US 8th Air Force road on Berlin on 3 February 1945. It seems inconceivable that any journalist would be allowed to take equivalent risks today.

Despatch by Robin Duff on board on troopship crossing the Channel towards Normandy, recorded 5 June 1994. Duff ably conveys the sense of tense anticipation among the soldiery.

Despatch by the Australian correspondent Chester Wilmot recounts how his glider virtually crash-landed in a ploughed field with no casualties, despite having mowed down five posts. Wilmot goes on to describe the assembly on the ground, and the landing of guns and heavy equipment. Recorded 6 June 1944.

Broadcast by Air Commodore William Helmore from a B25 bomber over the channel at around dawn. Helmore made the first 'live' broadcast on 6 June, recording onto a portable disc cutter. Helmore (whose rank was honorary) was an RAF scientist who had worked on searchlights and in-flight refuelling techniques, and also the Conservative MP for Watford between 1943 and 1945.

25/5 MINUTES TO H-HOUR (4.07)
Commentary by Michael Standing on board a headquarters ship off Normandy, recorded just after 7.05 and 7.30 am on 6 June 1944. Standing describes the "fantastic scenes" including the pre-landing bombardment from sea and air; the vast Allied armada; overcast weather; landing craft forming up; the light German resistance; the work of minesweepers; the landing of troops and armour; the rough and choppy sea close to the shore. "We who are standing here wish those boys who have gone in all the luck in the world."

Despatch by Colin Wills describing the scene as a Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) moves from the fleet towards the shore (probably Sword Beach), recorded 6 June 1944. "This is the day, and this is the hour." Wills describes the scale of the armada and sea conditions; "all hands to beaching stations"; smokescreens; bombardment by battleships; smoke on shore: "It's a great day."

From the Ministry of Information housed at the Senate House of London University, John Snagge reads Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force Communique No. 1 at 9.32 am on 6 June 1944, announcing the momentous news: "Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France." In fact German radio had announced the news as early as 7 am.

Howard Marshall (later Director of War Reporting for the BBC) gives an account of his own experience on the morning of 6 June 1944, while going ashore with the first British assault wave. He describes the bombardment of the shoreline ahead, negotiating tripod underwater obstacles, his landing craft being mined, and wading ashore in five feet of water. "The scene on the beach was at first rather depressing, as we did see a great many barges in difficulties. But then we began to see that in fact the proportion that had got through was very much greater, and in fact we were dominating the situation, and the Germans weren't really putting up a great deal of resistanceÖ. There is every reason for the highest confidence."

Account by Captain W.R. Sendall of the Royal Marine Commandos of the fierce fighting by 48 RM Commando for Saint Aubin-sur-Mer and Langrune-sur-Mer. The coastal village of Saint-Aubin lay on the eastern flank of Juno (the Canadian beach), which was the most heavily defended of the five landing beaches after Omaha. Heavily fortified, Langrune lay about a mile further along the coast towards Sword Beach. By the evening of 6 June 1944 both villages had been taken by Canadian troops and 48 Commando, the latter unit suffering fifty per cent casualties from a unit comprising 500 men. Recorded 17 June 1944.

Despatch by Matthew Halton of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, describing his experiences on landing from an assault craft on 6 June. Halton describes jumping into six feet of water with his typewriter and waded ashore; description of scenes on Juno Beach and a brief Luftwaffe bombing attack; German prisoners; wounded Canadian troops; French civilians, to whom Halton made "an absurd little speech." Halton was an unabashed sentimentalist who covered the war as a crusade. Recorded 8 June 1944. A total of 21,400 troops were landed on Juno on D-Day.

Company Sergeant-Major Stanley Hollis of D Company, 6th Green Howards, won the sole Victoria Cross awarded on D-Day. After clearing two pill-boxes behind Gold Beach and taking a large number of prisoners, Hollis cleared a neighbouring trench and later led an attack on another strongly-defended enemy position at Crepon. After realizing that two of his men had been trapped he returned to rescue them. In September 1944 he was wounded in the leg and evacuated to England, where he was decorated by King George VI on 10 October. After the war Hollis worked as an engineer and publican, and died in 1972. His VC is displayed at the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, Yorkshire. Recorded 21 August 1944.

Commentary by Alan Melville from a beach west of Ouistreham (Sword Beach) as reinforcements of the 6th Airlanding Brigade are dropped between the beach and the front line. The 'typical panzer battle' inland is the attack by battle groups of the 21st Panzer Division from Caen into the gap between Juno and Sword beaches. The only German counter-attack mounted on 6 June, the understrength 21 Panzer briefly reached the coast but turned back after engaging Allied armour, and once substantial reinforcements in the form of the 6th Airlanding Brigade (in 248 gliders) began dropping behind them that evening. Recorded at 21.00 on 6 June 1944. One veteran later recalled: "It is impossible to say with what relief we watched this reinforcement arrive."

Pre-recorded broadcast by Allied supreme commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower at about 9.45 am on 6 June 1944 announcing to Occupied Europe that the Allied Expeditionary Force has landed on the cost of France, and warning the French population not to take precipitate action. The text had been drafted two weeks earlier.

Despatch in which Richard Dimbleby reviews Allied progress at the end of the first day ashore, recorded 6 June 1944. The broadcast is partly based on a flight made over the beach-head at midday. Dimbleby covers the airborne drop, the unexpected ease of the beach landings, the scale of the armada, the relentless naval bombardment, the destruction of an Allied fighter in mid-air by a naval shell, the work of engineers onshore, construction of an airstrip, reinforcements of men and armour, the lack of German resistance or movement on the ground, civilian refugees despite order to stand fast, Bayeux from the air, absence of the Luftwaffe. "The first phase has gone not only according to plan, but corking well."

Broadcast in which four British soldiers wounded during the landing and fighting on 6 June 1944: Sergeant Hadman (of Derbyshire), Private Hartley (from Retford), Private Douglas Edwards (from South Wales) and Sapper Hewett (from near Chesham). Recorded 8 June 1944. The British and Canadian landings on Gold, June and Sword went much as planned, although exploitation inland was somewhat disappointing and Caen was not liberated until July.

Despatch by Stanley Maxted describing a patrol by Royal Navy motor torpedo boats (MTBs) in the Channel on 10 June 1944, including several engagements with German E-boats. Recorded 11 June 1944. Prior to D-Day the Channel had been effectively swept of all German naval strength, leaving only some 100 light vessels between Boulogne and Cherbourg. No U-boats managed to get through to the invasion route until the end of June.

Michael Standing describes a tour of several coastal towns and villages damaged during the Allied landings on Juno Beach, including Bernieres and Courseulles. Recorded 8 June 1944. Standing describes the reaction and situation of civilians in Bernieres; clearance of snipers by British troops; damage to church tower; abandoned German barracks in former holiday camp towards St Aubin; crowded beaches and inshore waters; hitchhike on DUKW to Courseulles, which is less damaged; shells whistle overhead from naval bombardment.

Despatch by Michael Standing describing the work of a Navy beach master, recorded 10 June 1944. Standing describes the landing of reinforcements and supplies, chiefly by DUKWs, and the sterling work of the beach master, a Lieutenant-Commander. The DUKWs landed 2000 tons of supplies the previous day, and 3000 on this day. The work of engineers is also described.

Eric Clavering interviews Lance-Corporal Lewis Emery of the 6th Airborne Division, who describes his experiences (and those of the 7th Parachute Battalion, Parachute Regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Pine-Coffin) on and after D-Day. Emery describes high morale before emplaning, and dropping at 00.50 am east of the River Orne; he took his first prisoner, a Russian, ten minutes after landing. The 7th Battalion were tasked with reinforcing the defence of the Orne bridges (Pegasus and Horsa), already seized just after midnight by a coup-de-main glider force. The Battalion reached the bridges at about 01.40 and took up positions in Benouville and Le Port, where they came under sustained attack from the 716 Infantry Regiment and elements of 21st Panzer, but held (with difficulty) until relieved by men of the Royal Warwicks after 21.00, advancing inland from Sword. On 10 June two companies of the 7th Battalion attacked German troops in a wood at Le Mariquet (where?) and took up to 100 prisoners, although during the assault five Sherman tanks were destroyed. Emery observes that German foreign units were no match for the Airborne, and had little fighting spirit. Conditions in the field were very hard, and the fatigued Battalion were returned to Britain only in mid-September. Recorded 8 September 1944.

The commander in chief of the 21st Army Group reads the message to his men issued on 10 June 1944, and broadcast (with additions) on 17 June from his HQ at Chateau Creully, Frank Gillard knew the General well: "Monty believed that through broadcasting he could speak to every man in his army and to their loved ones, and this was very important as morale was essential to the soldier in battle."

Flying Officer Peter West DSO describes a low level attack on German flak positions in the Pas-de-Calais, including being hit and wounded by a cannon shell. Recorded 10 June 1944. The Hawker Typoon was a single-seat strike fighter and one of the war's most successful ground-attack aircraft, equipped with 4x 20mm cannon and 4x 60-lb RP-3 rockets. During the ten weeks of the Normandy battle 150 Typhoon pilots were shot down.

Despatch by David Bernard after his second trip to the Normandy beaches, recorded 11 June 1944. Bernard reports that the sea is calmer than on 7 June, but that hundreds of bicycles are proving slow to unload. Cycles proved difficult to ride for overloaded troops, and most were swiftly discarded inland. By now the only sign of the enemy on the beaches is the occasional incoming shell, Bernard observes.

Dispatch by Richard Dimbleby after accompanying a raid by B25 Mitchell medium bombers of 2nd TAF on positions occupied by the 21st Panzer Division north of Caen. Recorded 11 June 1944. Dimbleby describes the scenes over the Channel and beaches, and the strike on the German armour and troops. As yet, Caen itself had not been badly damaged.

Actuality recording by Richard Dimbleby on board a Mosquito fighter bomber on 12 June 1944. Dimbleby describes the crowded Channel, the Spitfire escort, and various sights in Normandy seen from low level passes including a new landing strip, bomb cratering, fires on the battle front from east to west, cows in fields, and a red-capped military policeman directing traffic along busy roads: "All our chaps driving on the right hand side in the continental style." It was highly unusual for a broadcast to be recorded in the cramped confines of a twin-engined Mosquito, rather than larger Lancaster aircraft.

Description of shore bombardment by HMS Warspite by Andrew Cowan, recorded on 12 June 1944 when the battleship supported the British attack on Tilly-sur-Seulles, seven miles south-east of Bayeux, delivering 60 tons of high explosive in 15 minutes. Launched in 1913, Warspite was a veteran of Jutland and during the Second World War saw service in Norway and both the Mediterranean and Indian Oceans, earning the nickname The Old Lady. On 6 June 1944 Warspite formed part of Bombarding Group D, firing on German positions to cover the landing on Sword Beach, as well as Gold Beach and the American beach-heads over the following days (see photo). Much of her heavy armament of 8x 15 inch and 12x 6 inch guns were worn out in the process (only her A and B turrets were in action), and Warspite was placed on the reserve list the following year.

Commentary by Alan Melville and Stewart MacPherson as Spitfires operate from the first Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) completed in Normandy, recorded 14 June 1944. The first three Emergency landing Strips (ELS) were in operation by 7 June. This despatch probably refers to field B-2 at Bazenville, upgraded from ELS to ALG status on D+7. Capturing suitable airstrip areas was an important early objective of the invasion forces, and by 30 June 17 had been completed (the target was 27).

Squadron Leader James Eric Storrar (1921-1995) recounts how on 9 June he flew the first Allied aircraft to land in France (a Hurricane of 1697 ADLS Flight based at Hendon), carrying classified mail and recording material for war correspondents. Recorded 10 June 1944. Fighter ace James Storrar destroyed two enemy aircraft prior to the Battle of Britain, and was awarded the DFC in August 1940. He ended the war as a Wing Commander with twelve confirmed kills and several shared. Storrar's take-off cry was "Fuel and noise - let's go!" After the war he practised as a vetinary surgeon in Chester.

Despatch by Alan Melville from a newly-liberated village a few miles from Caen, the strategically important town which Montgomery earmarked for capture on D-Day itself, but in fact was not taken until July. The carillon of three bells in the church has been damaged in the fighting, with the result that only two are able to ring out to celebrate the coming of the Allies. Recorded 14 June 1944.

Michael Standing provides commentary on King George VI's visit to Allied troops on 16 June 1944, including his arrival on Juno Beach in an amphibious DUKW vehicle (see photo), where he was met by General Montgomery. During this visit the King made a tour of several shattered villages and decorated seven men at Montgomery's HQ at Chateau Creully. The King stayed in the luxurious fourteenth century chateau, rather than Monty's famous caravans. British newspaper reporters accompanying the King the were so explicit about the location of Montgomery's chateau that it was identified by German intelligence, and targeted by enemy artillery, forcing Monty to move his HQ to Blay, west of Bayeaux.

Despatch by Frank Gillard on conditions in Normandy ten days after D-Day, recorded on 16 June 1944. The beach-head still looks chaotic at first sight, but everything under control; danger of mines beside cleared tracks and roads; cornfields and clouds of dust, cows grazing; military police at every crossroads; civilian population leading normal lives; troops bathing; grimy troops returning from line; then din of battle and wrecked vehicles as they approach the front line towards Caen.

Lieutenant Peter Lamb describes an attack on an enemy position situated in a wood near Villers Bocage, during the difficult advance south towards Caen. Recorded 16 June 1944. Lamb discusses an attack on dug-in German troops, backed up by armour, which was ultimately repulsed with heavy British losses.

Commentary by Chester Wilmot recorded 17 June 1944 on board a troopship soon to leave for France, as men listen to Raymond Glendenning's BBC commentary on the famous race. The winning horse at Epsom was Ocean Swell.

Commentary by Frank Gillard recorded on 17 June 1944 during an attack on Tilly sur-Seulles, north-west Of Caen. The recording captures the sound of gunfire and exploding shells. Situated on a crossroads, the hard-fought battle for Tilly began on 11 June when the British 7th Armoured Division met German tanks of the elite Panzer Lehr. After ten days of fighting, during which the small town changed hands several times, Tilly was finally taken by the Allies on 20 June.

Commentary by Frank Gillard on the shattered medieval town of Tilly-sur-Seulles, recorded on 20 June, the day after Tilly finally fell to the Allies. Gillard describes some of the appalling sights, including ruined houses, unburied bodies, burning vehicles, and the ever-present danger of mines and booby-traps. During ten days of fierce fighting the town changed hands repeatedly, was pounded by artillery and received 500 tons of Allied bombs, and suffered ten per cent of the civilian population killed.

Despatch by David Bernard on board troopship Cheshire on the devastation inflicted on the task force by the violent Channel gales between 19 and 22 June (the worst for decades), and its effect on the build-up of Allied strength in Normandy. The gales sank or beached 800 vessels, as well as wrecking the US Mulberry prefabricated harbour at off Omaha Beach, and seriously damaging the British Mulberry at Arromanches off Gold Beach. In places craft were piled on to of one another two or three deep. By 19 June the British had landed 314,547 men, 54,000 vehicles and 102,000 tones of supplies, while the Americans had put ashore 314,504 men, 41,000 vehicles and 116,000 tons. The three-day gale inflicted far greater losses than the German army, costing the Allies 140,000 tons of supplies lost, and left the Americans with only two days' supply of ammunition. Recorded 24 June 1944.

Commentary by Chester Wilmot recorded near the village of Cheux on 26 June 1944. Against a background of actuality battle noise Wilmot is describing the opening stages of the advance of the 'furious Scotsmen' of the 15th (Scottish) Division, Wessex and 11th Armoured Division south towards Granville-sur-Odon. This attack formed part of Epsom, the disasterous operation intended as a five mile hook around the south of Caen in order to isolate the city. However the Channel gale delayed Epsom by three days until 26 June, and the attack stalled in the face of heavy rain (which in turn reduced air support), and determined resistance from several German armoured divisions, including 21st Panzer, Panzer Lehr and SS Hitlerjugend. Epsom was called off on 30 June, having incurred heavy (4000) casualties, but tying down German forces which assisted in the American breakout and advance on Cherbourg.

An account by Major R.G. Collins of the fighting in Normandy. Recorded 26 June 1944.

Radio propaganda broadcast from Germany and France during late May and June 1944 and monitored in Britain, using popular swing music and English language variety-style banter to warn the invading forces of the futility of their task. These broadcasts became more direct and potentially more de-moralising as the invasion pushed inland. Warnings of chaos on the home front caused by the 'Revenge weapons' (V1 and later V2), and suggestions of defeats or surprise attacks were regular themes.

Sleevenotes by James Hayward, with thanks to Bryan Webb (tracks 1/9, 2/22 and 2/23). Cover image (IWM B5270) shows the scene on Sword Beach on 6 June 1944, and appears courtesy of The Trustees of the Imperial War Museum (London).

A donation from the sale of this product has been made to The Royal British Legion, the leading charity helping those who have served and who are currently serving in the British Armed Forces.

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