Archives: The Courier speaks to D-Day survivors at Warneford Hospital
On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we delved back in the archives to find our how the Courier reported the news in June 1944. Here is one of the articles we found.
On June 16,1944, a Courier representative went to the Warneford Hospital to speak to survivors from D-Day.
Here is the exact report - notice the how excited the soldiers sound, despite the horrors they must have faced:
To the Warneford Hospital, Leamington, has been given the honour of caring for some of the men who sustained wounds in the landing in France on “D-Day”.
The Mayor (Alderman A Ashton) was among the first to take them comforts and assure them of the gratitude of the people of Leamington, who, he said, were proud of the great feat of arms carried out on the beaches of Normandy. Marshal Stalin has declared that “the history of wars does not know of any such undertaking, so broad in conception, so grandoise in scale, and so masterly in execution.”
A Courier representative who chatted with some of the men - they were mostly air-bourne troops - found them in excellent spirits and anxious to get back as quickly as possible.
“They gave me 30s in French money,” said one, “and I haven’t had a chance yet of spending it! I want to get back.”
A French naval commando - a lieutenant who insisted on remaining anonymous - produced for our inspection the badge which he tore from the uniform of a German whom he killed in the first hours of the invasion. “I had a terrific thrill in striking a blow for the liberation of my country, “ he said, “and my one desire now is to range myself with General de Gaulle and to resume the fight.” His eyes gleamed as he surveyed a formidable dagger, and we could see that he meant business.
Pte James Stephenson, of the Parachute Regiment, whose home is at Newall, Ottley, Yorks, described the tense feelings which he experienced as the bomber in which he was being carried reached its objective.
“We were all on edge, and eager to jump, because we had been so closely packed together,” he said. “We could tell we were over the French coast because of the anti-aircraft fire. Then the time came to jump. As soon as I landed I became a casualty as my foot struck a German block house. As I lay injured before being picked up I watched the gliders coming in. Never shall I forget the wonderful sight.”
“Neither shall I,” chimed in another 22-year-old - Pte David Lathrope, of London - who was wounded when taking part in an attack on a machine-gun next. “It was a stupendous experience, but it was pretty rough going at the beginning. I saw four Germans drop from my rifle fire.”
Corpl George Burdis, RE, of South Shields, said he thought everyone had gone mad when the landings were made. “We all knew where Jerry was, and we wanted to get at him,” he said. “Unfortunately, I was wounded in the leg and back by machine-gun fire from a German ‘plane... I’m fed up lying here, and I want to get back to my pals.”
Another party of wounded is being treated at Warwick Hospital.