"We landed on D-Day. I was in A Company, in charge of the 3rd Platoon, so we were the first ones on the beach."
My name is Hugh Neily. In military records it will come out as Melbourne Hugh Neily. I joined the Army March 24 of 1941 at the age of eighteen. I served in the medical corps for a while, and transferred to infantry, obtained a commission, instructed for a while in Canada, then transferred to Can-Loan, went over to the British Army where I joined the 2nd Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, and they were part of the 3rd British Infantry Division.
We landed on D-Day. I was in A Company, in charge of the 3rd Platoon, so we were the first ones on the beach. We cleared the defences, which included getting through barbed wire entanglements. I believe I took the first prisoners in that area. We cleared our way through to our first objective in a matter of seven to nine minutes. I lost one of my soldiers killed, one wounded. After gaining our first objective, the rest of the company came through. We were then given the order to advance across an open field, my platoon being number three, was at rear guard. Half-way across the field we were hit by five enemy mortar shells. I lost fourteen men, wounded, some severely. I received a piece of shrapnel in the back of my leg, which pretty much paralyzed it for a while, but later in the day I was able to catch up with my battalion and I stayed with them until wounded on the 28th day of June. We saw many actions in between, but I never received enough to make up a full platoon again, and the most I ever had was seventeen men when I should've had about thirty. So it was, at times, kind of nick and tuck, trying to do a full platoon job.
It was scary. I don't suppose I ever slept more than two hours at one stretch during the entire period that I was there, twenty-two days. But, looking back on it, I don't ever recall being extremely frightened. My men were extremely well-trained. They were very, very disciplined and they seemed to like me and I certainly liked them.
After returning to England, I spent the better part of four months in hospitals and in clinics. Eventually, I was transferred to another unit which was a training division, and in late October of that year I was attached to a unit which was referred to as the Prime Minister's Guard. We were given the task of guarding the Prime Minister while he was at his weekend home, Chequers, in Buckinghamshire. I was there for about seven months. That was a bit boring at times, but at times during night manoeuvres and training and so forth, it was really quite exciting. No lights, of course, and doing everything in the dark. But, once again, we had extremely well-trained men and we were very mobile. We had a lot of vehicles, Bren gun carriers, motorcycles and so forth, and that was really at times quite exciting, and probably a worthwhile job.