Photo of the 20th Battery, 59th (Nfld)Heavy Regiment R.ACourtesy of Stephen Tucker
Portrait of Stephen Tucker taken in Edinborough, Scotland 1943.Courtesy of Stephen Tucker
Photo of Mr. and Mrs. Tucker on their wedding day, November 28th 1942.Courtesy of Stephen Tucker
Photo of the firing of Flushing Harbour, October 2nd 1944.Courtesy of Stephen Tucker
Photo taken in 1940 after Mr. Tucker enlisted prior to going overseas.Courtesy of Stephen Tucker
"And the ship vibrated and I thought, oh my God, we’re hit. So I dashed up on deck to find out what caused the awful noise."
When it came time for the 59th [(Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, part of XII British Corps] to go across the [English] Channel [to Normandy, in July 1944], we had two ships to take the full regiment. Those ships we called LST, Landing Ship, Tank. We loaded aboard at 10:00 one night and pulled out into the Channel to wait until the next morning. Where I had a light vehicle, I was put up on deck and it was cold and windy and I asked one of the crew, was there anywhere I could go to be more comfortable? And he said, you’re lucky, one of our members missed this trip so there’s a spare bunk. So he took me down in their sleeping quarters and he said, now there’s the bunk, you can stay in it all night because we won’t be landing before some time tomorrow morning.
So I got into the bunk and went to sleep, obviously very sound, because a terrific noise woke me. And the ship vibrated and I thought, oh my God, we’re hit. So I dashed up on deck to find out what caused the awful noise. It was the 35,000 ton battleship, HMS Rodney, she was yanked at broadside, firing inland with her six guns. And the recoil from those guns was so powerful that the big ship rocked back and sent out a tidal wave.
So I had asked the young fellow [in the LST], did they have a mail drop-off when they went back to England? He said, of course. So I wrote a letter to my wife, this was, he put it in a mailbag and of course, I missed breakfast, I had to get aboard my truck and go ashore hungry.
Anyway, we [the 59th (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment] saw action from France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. When the war ended [on May 8, 1945], I was overdue on UK leave. So they sent me back as soon as they can. I think I arrived back in England on the 5th of June and I was put on indefinite leave until they could get a passage for my wife [a British war bride] and family. And that took six months approximately. So I was living with my wife in Edinburgh [Scotland] when we received this letter, stamped salvaged at sea. This was the letter I wrote my wife back on that LST. Now, what would have happened if the Rodney wasn’t there? It would have been my final trip.