0835 hrs

⁃    TLC 8, after withdrawing from Red Beach, begins its run into White Beach, after Lt.-Col. Johnny Andrews radios Major Gordon Rolfe, who is on the beach in scout car Hunter, “Is it worthwhile my coming ashore?” Rolfe replied that Andrews was needed.

⁃    Andrews signals: “About to beach. Be seeing you. Cheerio.”

⁃    Doc Alexander wrote: “Eventually, word was received that a few Tanks had broken through and we were ordered to attempt a landing on White Beach near the Casino. All this time great aerial battles were in progress – some German planes were getting through , but mostly the R.A.F. Had control of the skies. Some bombs had fallen fairly close to us, and shells from shore had also come in our direction, but we had not had a great deal of trouble.

⁃    “As we drew nearer the Beach the second time, Germans could be seen on the shores by the cliffs, and as we drew nearer, we were caught in a terrific hail of fire from Shore Batteries, Field Guns, and a constant hail of Machine Gun fire and bursting shrapnel. The wounded and dead were everywhere. The fire grew worse as we drew nearer the shore – we were called to our stations – the motors of our vehicles were again started, and when we were within fifty yards of shore, all hell broke loose. The call for stretcher bearers was heard in all directions. We left our vehicles and climbed to the upper parts of the boat.

⁃    “On reaching the upper part, a shell exploded which knocked me back to the bottom of the boat – but I was unhurt. I climbed to the top again when another shell hit and blew me the opposite direction – right off the boat, but somehow I caught an Engineer’s foot – and was pulled back on again.

⁃    “At this time – the ramp on the front of the ship was starting to open as we were approaching the shore – a shell exploded in the front of the ship – breaking the cables and rigging and allowing the door to fall into the sea, forming a brace which kept us from going in further, and a direct hit was registered from he side. The ship was a complete standstill, the skipper was wounded and ordered “abandon ship” then jumped into the water.

⁃    “The call came up from below to reverse the engines, and seeing no one on the bridge and discovered no living people left – everywhere were dead bodies – some badly mutilated, some not. I shouted down that there were no living people above deck. I heard a call from the cat walk for help and ran there to find it crowded with dead and dying men – all wounded, not one uninjured man.

⁃    “At this time was the first that I had noticed that the Col’s Tank had gone off the ship. His cover had been torn away by the protruding steel on the doorway, and it immediately submerged in about 6 feet of water and as the cover was gone – the engine flooded and stopped.

⁃    “Some of the men escaped from the turret and I saw them picked up by a small L-Boat which immediately put out to sea, but only travelled a short distance when it received a direct hit from one of the short battery and burst into the flames. I saw the men again jump into the water, but do not know whether they were again picked up or not. At this time a little distant from our boat, the sea was dotted with human bodies, held up by Mae West life belts and the Germans were pouring both Machine Gun and shells into their midst.

⁃    “Our boat was now hopeless, all the Naval crew were either killed or blown overboard and we floated sideways into the Beach, receiving broadsides from all of the shore guns. Machine gun bullets were beating a constant tattoo on the boat. Explosions were occurring inside and out, and at one time the inside of the boat was a sheet of flame. Men were blown overboard. Many whom I had just finished bandaging, whne I turned back I found had been killed, and nearly all were blown completely off the ship. The boat came to a stop between the Col’s Tank and the short, but something floated it off the Beach again and we floated helplessly in front of this range of guns until we were reported to the Navy to be absolutely out of action.”


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About Rob Alexander

I am a writer, photographer and historian and the author of The History of Canmore, published by Summerthought Publishing of Banff, AB.

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