The Time of My Life - D Day Landings.avi (Size: 170.51 MB) (Files: 1)
The Time of My Life - D Day Landings.avi
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The Time of My Life - Channel Four Schools
The D-Day Landings: 1944
Ken Smith talks to Jessica Nash about the D-Day landings.
Jessica Nash (15) travels to Normandy with Ken Smith to revisit the beaches where Ken took part in the D-Day invasion
of France in 1944 'the beginning of the end' of the Second World War.
The invasion of northern France from England was launched on 6 June 1944, the famous D-Day.
The assembled force included 1,200 fighting ships, 10,000 aeroplanes, 4,000 landing craft, 800 transport ships,
and hundreds of amphibious and other special-purpose tanks. 156,000 troops (73,000 US and 83,000 British or Canadian)
were landed in Normandy: 132,500 of them seaborne across the Channel and 23,500 airborne.
Ken joined the Royal Navy in 1941. At 15 years old he was underage,
but he lied and forged his father's signature. He received a letter with the 'King's Shilling' attached, meaning he had been
officially accepted into the Navy. His uniform consisted of a tight tunic and bell-bottomed trousers.
For months prior to the invasion, Ken and the invasion force practised landing on the beaches of Dorset and Devon.
Live ammunition had been used in the practices.
Even on the day of the invasion they were not certain when it was to take place.
The landing craft on which Ken served carried 65 soldiers.
There were no seats, no toilets, and the soldiers had only their personal rations to eat.
Waves were breaking over the top of the craft, and many of the soldiers were seasick.
Ken's landing craft was one of thousands of vessels which sailed across on the night of 5 June 1944.
Because of the heavy seas, the invasion force had to wait 12 hours before the signal to land came at about 4.30 on the morning of 6 June.
Allied armies landed at five beaches along the Normandy coast, code-named Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
While four beaches were taken easily and quickly, the forces landing at 'Bloody Omaha' encountered stiff German resistance.
Ken said that the US soldiers who landed on Omaha beach were very brave, they ran onto the beach, over other soldiers who had been killed,
in the face of heavy German fire. Their task was to climb the steep cliffs and join up with the paratroopers who had been
dropped behind the German defences by aircraft.
The aim of this landing was to capture the crucial port of Cherbourg, which would allow the Allies to mount a full-scale invasion of France.
The port was finally taken on 27 June 1944.
Ken felt he was lucky to be alive: he had seen so many other soldiers die that the sand was red with their blood.
When he stood in the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach and looked at the graves of the 9000 US troops buried there, he seemed sad.
However, he felt that these soldiers had died for a cause in which they believed,
in the hope that future generations would never again have to fight such a terrible war.
Production Company: Wised Up
Commissioning Company: Channel Four Schools
Director: Zoe Dobson
Producer: Mick Robertson
Video: DivX 5 720x536 25.00fps 1537Kbps
Audio: MPEG Audio Layer 3 44100Hz 128Kbps
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