Operation Overlord

Operation Overlord was the operational name for the largest invasion ever of a defended shoreline from the sea.

An RAF Regiment crew mans a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun near an advanced landing ground in Normandy.
An RAF Regiment crew mans a 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun near an advanced landing ground in Normandy. Taken around the time of D-Day.

The contribution that the Corps made is often lost in the immensity of the operation, but two Wing Headquarters, 1304 and 1305, went ashore around midnight on the 6th June 1944, mostly through Juno Beach but with some elements supporting the Ground Control Interception (GCI) of 20 Base Defence Group on Omaha beach.

British Pathé newsreel of the RAF Regiment training for D Day. The reality of the landings was brutally different from the calm beaches of south west England, and some gunners never even made it across the Channel.

2817 Sqn another of the initial wave was caught by a German shore battery and one of its LCTs (Landing Craft, Tank) was sunk with a number of casualties. LAC Derrick Dean of 2876 Squadron described the scene.

At about 0400 a German aircraft dropped flares over the convoy which illuminated the vessels for patrolling German E Boats. Although the convoy scattered on the orders of the commander, the enemy boats were successful in attacking some of the LCTs. The one carrying 2817 Squadron received direct hits which smashed the ramps and pierced the hull. Our craft manoeuvred alongside to take off the dead and wounded and to tow the damaged LCT towards the beaches. Despite our efforts, she began to sink and we took the remaining personnel – RAF Regiment and Royal Navy – on board while the guns, vehicles and equipment of 2817 Squadron went down with the LCT. Our squadron went ashore on Juno beach and, despite stiff enemy resistance, reached the airstrip at Coulombes before midday where we immediately went into action against German aircraft. That night we mounted patrols to clear the surrounding area of the snipers who had been bothering us during the day

LAC Derrick Dean

2834 Squadron, a Bofors LLAD (Low Level Air Defence) unit, were part of the assault force but did not get ashore until the early morning of D+1 and deployed forward to Brazzaville, becoming the first RAF Regiment unit in action in France.

By D+12 we had landed 10 Wing HQs, mostly through Juno Beach. By the end of the Battle of Normandy, 30th August, we had 18 Wings with 18 LLAD Sqns, 8 Rifle Sqns and 4 Armoured Car Sqns.

Rest In Peace, Never Forgotten:

  • Sgt Neville Salmon D+1 2726 Sqn
  • Cpl L A Batchelor D+1 2817 Sqn
  • LAC N D Dring D+1 2817 Sqn
  • Sgt J R Parker D+1 2817 Sqn
  • LAC W M Finch D Day 2834 Sqn.