The sea was very rough. But we weren’t too badly off in our LCTs. These were larger vessels and more stable than the smaller LCIs that carried the infantry.
We had been aboard the ship since the morning of June 3 when we loaded at Southampton. The weather had already caused one postponement of 24 hours and it was still bad. The night before we had tried to light afire to cook a meal after we rounded the Isle of Wight, but we had to give it up because the waves kept breaking over the prow.
The run-in to the beaches was really nothing new. We had done this countless times before in training. They had told us that we were going in with such weight that the operation couldn’t be anything but a success. They told us the danger would come later when the Germans tried to push us off.
The thing I remember most about going in was that the beach looked so unreal. You could see the flashes of the German guns, the smoke rising, and the flashes from our own guns as we moved in to shore. Then I turned and saw one of the rocket landing craft let go with its full bank and saw where the rockets hit on shore. It made you feel a little bit better to know you had all that power with you.
I dont know what time we actually landed but it must have been sometime after 8 oclock. The Winnipegs were in ahead of us. But we didnt get off the beaches for another hour and a half with our tanks. There were sand dunes in front of us and behind them was low lying land that had been flooded. There were no exits. A bulldozer sank in a culvert that had been cratered and the engineers had to run another on top of it and build a causeway over both. Our troop managed to get across before it collapsed.
“C” Squadron of the First Hussars was to support the Canadian Scottish. “A” was with the Winnipegs and “B” with the Reginas. The Fort Garry Horse was with the 8th and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers was with the 9th. These three regiments made up the 2nd Armoured Brigade.
I don’t think I shall ever lose my respect for the infantry. Those poor footsloggers took everything that was thrown at them from both sides. Yet they were the ones who won the war for us.
I remember that as we traveled up the road we saw Jerry popping his head out of the grainfields. They’d fire a few bursts and we’d give them some Browning. But they had nothing heavy and, with the tank, we could ignore them. But it is strange how the fortunes of war can go. After we had moved inland a short way I met one of the commanders from “B” Squadron and we tried to decide which side of a river we would take. I decided to go up one side, he went up the other and ran into a German 88. The first shot blew him and the turret right off the tank. And the gun got four more. Five shots, five tanks before one of our boys got him. On our side of the river, we didn’t see a thing.
We got a call to go up ahead and help out the Winnipegs who were being held up outside Creully. We found two German machine guns defending the bridge over the river. They immediately shot out our periscopes. We fired shells into them and then went across. Inside the town we met the British who had come in the other way. We talked to them for a few minutes. Then a fist fight broke out between the French and we had to stop that. It seemed that feelings were running pretty high among the villagers now that the Germans had left.
We had stayed with the Winnipegs, but we were moving along at an infantry pace. So I told them we would go on ahead with the tanks and wait for them if we ran into trouble.
Soon we were approaching the village of Camilly and the French people rushed out to greet us. As we moved through the town, a German scout car came hurtling around a curve in the road toward us. We quickly pumped shot and it caught fire. We leaped from our tanks, removed the wounded and placed them on the side of the road.
All this time we had been trying to reach brigade by radio to tell them there was nothing ahead. But we couldn’t reach them. Then I recall looking at my watch and remembering we had had nothing to eat. But we decided to go a bit farther. We struck out along the road until we were approaching Sequeville en Bessin. We came to a depression in the road and stopped.
Then the funniest thing happened. I had been scanning the countryside with my binoculars when suddenly a German trooper stepped out of the grainfield ahead of us. He came marching down the road and when he came up to us snapped a salute. I don’t even think he knew the invasion was on. I tried to tell him he should be surrendering and drew my revolver. He was off that road like a jackrabbit and I missed him by about 10 feet.
By now it was pretty late in the afternoon. There was no sign of the infantry and we couldn’t get anybody on the radio. We decided to go back.
People often ask, what did you see in the war? Well, you don’t see much. I never saw the tank that got me and I never saw the gun that fired the shot.
NOTE Mr. McCormick was wounded on 11 June at Mesnil-Patry. He lost his right leg.