Veteran Stories:
Ronald Stafford

Army

  • This photo of Ronald Stafford was taken during the battle of the the Scheldt in 1944.

  • Ronald Stafford, 2010.

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"On June the 5th [1944], the captain come along when we was having our breakfast, he says: ‘Everybody’s going to fall in at 10:00 [pm], we’re moving out. Take everything with you that you own because we will not be coming back to this location.’"

Transcript

On June the 5th [1944], the captain come along when we was having our breakfast, he says: ‘Everybody’s going to fall in at 10:00 [pm], we’re moving out. Take everything with you that you own because we will not be coming back to this location.’ So we boarded our trucks at 10:00 [pm], drove into Southampton [England], where we got aboard a troop ship, the North Shore Regiment, D Company was already aboard and our 30 man crew, we went aboard there too. So we stood off the outer right until, I don’t know, way after evening some time, and then all of a sudden, the ship gave a little shiver and we were underway. So around 2:00 in the morning, the captain come on, he said: ‘This is the captain, this is no drill, we are heading for the beaches of Normandy [France] and anybody [who] wants to write a letter, the paper and pencil on decks A&B, and rum ration will be at 3:00 [am].’ So chugged on through the night, across the [English] Channel and then before daybreak, we started unloading onto the LCI, that’s landing craft infantry. And down rope ladders some of them and others LCIs were slung on the sides. So we were down in the dark and we traveled around for a while and it was just starting to break daylight when we started heading for shore. So when the LCIs, there’s an eight or ten foot steel ramp in front, I suppose that for protect against small arms and also when they splashed down, you can’t see ahead but you could see on the left/right and it was just starting daybreak. So I looked up to my right and I saw a small plane flying and suddenly, there was a white burst. I don’t know if one of our shells from the big ships [the Allied Navy] got them or the Germans got them but he went down. And we carried on, we were just breaking day when we could see the beach ahead [on June 6, 1944] and then all of a sudden, some of the boats were hitting mines as they went in and we were lucky, we escaped through and the ramps splashed down and we ran ashore. For a few seconds, we stayed behind a sea wall and then we started patching up some of the boys, one stepped on a personnel mine, right there on the beach and he was blood from knees to the belly button. So we gave him a shot of morphine and covered him up.
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