Driver Mech. - 20th Beach Group R.E.M.E.
After being in training with
the Royal Welch Fusileers for 2 years, and a foot accident, I was
transferred to R E M E in October 1942.
We were at Gailes Camp in Ayshire thats were we practiced waterproofing
all vehicles ready for the big day. We drove them down a ramp in
Irvine Harbour and drove them in the ocean till they drowned, then
towed back to camp to get the results till the main Red Tape were
We went by convoy to Tonbridge
Wells for a few days. Then marshalled into a large fenced off area
near Portsmouth. This was very secure, no phones, no mail, no nothing.
Without warning we were 20th beach group REME with 1 Corps the Spearhead.
We were marshalled on to the Portsmouth docks with all our kit and
vehicles we had a new one a BARV it was Sherman Tank no gun turret
but built up like a submarine to operate in 12 feet water, We thought,
some more training but no when we sailed well away they told us
this is it.
With the Navy shelling and the
Air Forces bombing we went in after the commandos.Then Hell broke
loose. A ship loaded with ammunition and gasoline was hit and went
up in flames with every thing exploding, we were scared but could
only do what we were told to do, the landing craft were coming in
at full speed they got beached so we had to push them back with
the BARB after they had wounded loaded and some injured very bad.
This was our job to do for a few days along the 3 beaches Gold
, Juno and Sword.
We helped to bring in the Mulberry Harbor and Pluto which was the
Pipeline Under The Ocean.
Three of us were send down into
Carne to get a weasel which was a rubber tracked carrier used by
the recky corp, we found it on an island in the river with the enemy
still on the other side. It was finished so our orders were if we
could not fix it, destroy it. So we blew it up I was the youngest
so I had to press the button with 7 seconds to get out. When it
went up in a big bang and then, every body were shooting at us not
just the enemy. It took us three days to get back to our unit at
the beach and were told we were missing believed killed.
My wife was expecting a baby so that message to the UK was cancelled.
In august we started to get our mail there we were still on the
beach, all the unit knew about the baby and my mail was huge so
we all started together to open. Then a cheer and the Captain read
it out : IT IS A boy born July 13.
We were not wanted on the beach any more so we did road patrols
to get back any vehicles that were broken down from all nations.
We also had to go to dumps of shot up Tanks to take them apart for
spares like tracks , engines and gear boxes.
We were working on a Sherman to get the gear box this was the front
of the tank. My job was inside with a wrench while my mate broke
the spot weld on et outside. inside the tank were three dead bodies
which we could get out when the gear box vanished. But another tank
came along and bumped us and knocked some of the phosphorous plastic
grenades out of the turret and one exploded in a big fire. All I
could do was to pull the bodies on top of me and wait it out. The
turret was still open and the only way out, I crawled out and nobody
expected me to come out. I just had a burn on the back of my right
hand with holding the bodies on top.
We continued our road patrols
till it was time to cross into Germany. We got to Nijmegen and
when the thaw started we convoyed down to Venlo passing a Town with
my name UDEN.
The Royal Engineers set us up with a pontoon bridge to cross the
Rhine. My truck was the heaviest contained Blacksmith shop etc ,
so they guided me on to the first pontoon with orders keep going,
what i was told after it was like snake with some of it coming apart
we did the Sergeant and I, we watch the rest come over it was easy
nobody shot at us so off we went to tour Germany.
Walter Uden (February