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Thread: RAF units off the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944

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    Default RAF units off the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944

    The RAF. Mod UK website at http://www.raf.mod.uk/dday/timeline_june6.html describes LACs Eric Ingham and Peter Read being on Fighter Direction Tender (FDT) 216 off UTAH and OMAHA beaches on D-day. I guess there must have been more senior RAF personnel in charge, but I'd appreciate some advice as to the following:

    1. How many FDT's were so deployed
    2. How many RAF personnel were so deployed
    2. Did the Americans deploy similar tenders
    3. To which parent unit did Ingham and Read belong

    TIA
    Brian

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    Default Fighter direction tenders

    Brian , in answere to your thread i can add the following
    1/ there were 3 such FDT'D operating of Normandy ,FDT 13.FDT 216 AND FDT 217 .

    2/ THE FDT'S were manned by approx 175 RAF PERSONNEL who were responsible for the manning of all the RADAR equipment the NAVY personnel were responsible for getting the boat in the right position .

    3/ The Americans did not opertate simlair fdt's

    4 both LAC INGRAM AND REID , WERE PART of HQ 105 WING .

    some yrs ago i ressearched no516 CO SQD , this sqd was responsible for much of the calibration trials that took place while these FDT WERE undergoing sea trials prior to D-DAY , so i was asked by the then COMBINED OPERATIONS MUSEUM at INVERARY to prepare a display on the role of these vessels , with this off course much deep research was done by myself into this unknown part of D-DAY , i made contact with both LAC INGRAM AND REID
    and many others i have pages of research into the subject and photographs .

    i even have a film made about the role of these ships , ths idea of carrying radar ONBOARD A ship was not a new idea in fact radar was used and carried on board an LST , off the ANZIO BEACHHEAD . i would be most interested in your interest in the subject . and if you want to know more PM ME .

    bw phill jones

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    Phill,

    First many thanks for such a quick, and comprehensive reply. Primarily my interest is in the sea state during the morning and afternoon of D-day, and yesterday Peter (Resmorah) sent a extract from "The Storm of War" (Andrew Roberts) which included a comment on the waves by one of the soldiers. However, further down the page was another comment:

    "We could see a shambles ahead of us on the beach,' recalled Leading Aircraftman Norman Phillips of the RAF who landed here, 'burning tanks, jeeps, abandoned vehicles, a terrific crossfire."

    Between us were were trying to work out when and why RAF personnel followed the assault forces ashore on 6 June. Whilst Googling to find an answer I came across the reference to the FDTs and the two LACs - hence my query since I'd never heard of such things before and I doubted many other forumites had either. I never expected to find an expert.

    I'm just wondering if your research uncovered any references to the weather either during the crossing or off the beaches - and whether any of your photos give an impression of the sea state.

    Perhaps I should add that I've seen plenty of photos but it's very difficult to get a proper impression of what the sea conditions were like, and it's only when I saw a very brief movie clip on 'The One Show' on 6 June a couple of weeks ago, that I truly realised just how bad it was during the morning assaults.

    If you think you can help I'll PM you.

    Cheers
    Brian

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    Brian,

    I doubt Norman Phillips was with the FDTs if he landed on the beaches on 6 June. It seems much more likely that he was part of an RAF GCI unit which landed on Omaha Beach late afternoon on the 6th. That would certainly explain his comment about the shambles. I may be wrong in this, but without more detailed information, this seems a more likely explanation for someone actually landing on the beaches. In contrast the FDTs were moored off the coast so personnel would not have been on the beaches on the 6th.

    I hope this is useful.

    Ian

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    Apologies Ian; I can see my ambiguity but I didn't mean to imply Philips was on one of the FDTs. Thank you for the reference to the RAF GCI unit landing on OMAHA during the late afternoon, that my a tenuous time-line for RAF personnel on the beaches.

    Brian

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    Default RAF Units off the Normandy beaches

    Gentlemen

    You might find these links of interest - my (now sadly late) father told me that the RAF personnel were sometimes mistaken for Germans because their RAF blue, when dusty, looked similar to the Wehrmacht uniforms. He often wore army khaki at B.11 Longues

    http://www.rafbeachunits.info/html/raf_beach_balloon_units.html
    and http://www.combinedops.com/FDTs.htm

    cheers

    Allan
    Last edited by allan125; 27th June 2011 at 13:59. Reason: B.19 code for Lingevres used instead of correct B.11 Longues
    Allan Hillman

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    Many thanks Allan, excellent find. I'd already identified the logbooks of a number of capital ships (including the Bulolo) that were positioned off the Normandy beaches, but your link has led me to a report (as opposed to logbook) about the landing which was rendered by FDT 217 on returning to base. That, I think (hope), will be very useful for my purposes.

    I'll have to chase up the Beach Balloon Units as well.

    Brian

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    Default RAF Units off the Normandy beaches

    Hi Brian

    Pleased to help - some more background information - 125 Wing HQ, in which my father served, lost people on D Day "125 Wing ORB 9/6/44 The tragic news was received that our S.M.O. and P.M.C. S/L R.G.S. Grant was killed on "D" Day. It appears the vessel Doc. Grant was on hit a mine on its way across the channel. This first casualty of 125 Wing is a severe loss to all the personnel of the Airfield. The medical section of 125 Wing, under Doc. Grant's expert guidance, maintained a very high reputation for efficiency and cleanliness throughout 83 Group. As the first P.M.C. of 125 Officers Mess, S/L Grant was popular with everybody for the way in which the mess was organised and run. It is perhaps significant that when V.I.P's were on visits to Airfields they always arranged to have meals at 125 Wing. No higher compliment could be paid to S/L Grant's efficiency as P.M.C."

    My father went over on 18 June - just before the Great Storm - and landed on Juno Beach. After taking off the waterproofing they set off for their dedicated base (Carpiquet - not knowing it was still in German hands) and were stopped by shelling, looking down into the ditches beside the road they saw soldiers who told them they were the front line!! So they turned the trucks around with difficulty and moved elsewhere - ending up at B.11 Longues a few days later.

    Until recently the only photo I had of my father in 125 Wing was taken at RAF Ford in late May '44, which I found on the Australian War Memorial website. Now I have one of the "125 Wing Telephone Boys" at B.11 showing him with a host of his colleagues, which turned up recently, and also one at Douai and another at Kastrup.

    cheers

    Allan
    Allan Hillman

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    Default Raf units off the normandy beaches

    Brian , i am still watching this thread , and although i am not sure if the following helps any but here it is anyway

    15th June 44 FDT 216 had returned to PORTSMOUTH ,,to repair collision damage sustained when an american LCT collided with her,FDT 217 ,TOOK HER PLACE WITHIN THE AMERICAN SECTOR,Because NO 15082 G.C.I,WAS NOT FULLY OPERATIONAL by this time,, FDT 217 was able to leave her latter postion to do this as No 15083 G.C.I,had taken control in the british sector.

    The allied shipping lanes had not been attacked and FDT13, was not used to control fighters during ther first 7 days of the landings ,,FDT 13 therfore returned to port to refueland take on fresh supplies ,

    When FDT 13 returned she took up a position some 20mls off the coast in a position E.N.E.of BARFLEUR , to track Torpedo and mine laying aircraft around the cherbourg peninsular , it may be at this time that FDT 13 was subjected to enemy air attack but luckily was unsucsesfull

    On the 23rd June FDT 217 said farewell to the AMERICAN SECTOR AFTER 17 DAYS CONT SERVICE and returneds to anchorage , it was intended that she would return to Normandy and repalce either FDT 13 OR 216 ,in MID CHANNEL,
    nut as the advance on the continent progressed she was not needed ,However FDT 217 was detailed to go to the WALCHEREN ISLANDS ,Withe a flotilla of Rocket firing LCT'S (six ships), ex F/SGT John Glen takes up the story At the last moment the order was cancelled since the mobile radar stations that had landed at Normandy had move north through france . so, the rocket firing LCT'S moved off on their own , It was a disaster only one managed to make it back to COWES ,and knocked a hole in FDT217 above the waterline in an attempt to come along side , the LCT FLAK ship , WAS ALL SHOT UP THE COOLING WATER PUMPS HAD FAILED AND THE DECKS WERE ALL SCORCHED
    AND BURNT UP .
    and so it goes on , hope this is of some use to you .

    phill jones

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    Thank you both gentlemen. It wasn't my intention that the thread would develop along these lines, but it's certainly opened my eyes and, I hope, brought this unsung story of the RAF to the notice of other forum members. As Phil knows, (he's helping me off-board) my interest is really in the meteorology of the day, and particularly in the forecasts, but since Allan has referred to the great storm (19-21 June) which all but destroyed the Mulberry harbours, I'll make a very brief comment.

    The forecasters were tasked with providing a 5-day forecast for D-day, a task way beyond the normal techniques of the time and one which would still be iffy today, despite all the modern technology - weather is a fickle mistress. That they managed to identify a window in which Eisenhower could launch the invasion is remarkable - or, perhaps, lucky.

    The forecasters continued their daily conferences after D-day, although the actual forecasts for day-to-day operations had become the responsibility of the meteorologists supporting the individual services. On 17 June a 5-day forecast was required for a particularly weather-sensitive convoy crossing the Channel, leaving port on the 18th; all the forecasters, including those at the Admiralty whose responsibility this really was, anticipated quiet, anticylonic conditions for the next 3-5 days. None of them anticipated the storm to which Allan refers, which is why I suggested that the correct forecast two weeks earlier was, perhaps, lucky.

    Brian
    Last edited by Lyffe; 28th June 2011 at 08:38.

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