I had with the rest of a 3 inch mortar team, att: to “ D” company of the 12th Devons ; just set up our mortar in a walled garden within the grounds of a small château which I believe was the Brigade H.Q. when quite suddenly the alarm was sounded, “Stand by your weapons” and at the same time Bren. and Vickers machine guns opened up. We immediately prepared the bombs for firing and at the same time I received compass bearing and range2000 yards via my phone head set, followed by …one round H.E… fire
Richard Dunkley at the age of 84
Normally this would have been a ranging shot then instead of a follow up order to fire a second round to bracket the target, the standard practice, the order was …three rounds rapid fire quickly followed by another three rounds again and again and always dropping the range by three hundred yards at a time and to our astonishment the last order to fire at a range of four hundred yards and when to our front the rifle platoons started firing one of the boys shouted lets get the f… out of here and we all scrambled out the pit to our slit trenches a few yards away and half way there I pulled out my 45 American Colt pistol, the only weapon I had at the time, and in my excitement pulled the trigger with the round just missing my foot by a fraction of an inch and that was my first and only shot I fired with that pistol in the whole three months or the Normandy campaign but my team must have fired hundreds or Mortar bombs in that time.
Richard Dunkley seated right, second week in army, age 18
Germandy, april 1945 with 3" Mortar. (Richard on the right)
It is important for any future readers to know that that mortar team and the great majority of the young men there, and I was only just nineteen, we were not long out of school and had not been in gainful employment for more than two or three years and we were taking on in mortal combat just about the most well trained and the best equipped fighting force the world had ever seen, our one advantage was, we didn’t know it, I for one thought ,well half the bloody country is here so I must be doing the right thing so carry on regardless.
The attack was beaten off with the timely help of our six pounder anti tank guns and if you wish to know the true story of the 6th Division in Normandy. don’t go to the history books, go to the Airborne cemetery in Ranville, and read the tomb stones, that’s where the true story lies.
Rock Cornwall 24 March 2009