This minute-by-minute account of D-Day was written by a war reporter aboard a British destroyer.
0507 – Lying eight miles from the lowering position for invasion craft.
0520 – Dawn. The great shapes of inumerable assault ships appear smudgily on our starboard beam.
0527 – Night bombing has ceased. Great naval bombardment begins.
0533 – We move in slowly.
0536 – Cruisers open fire on our starboard bow. We can now recognise Belfast and Mauritius.
0545 – The big assault ships start lowering their boats crowded with tin-hatted Tommies. I can pick out Prince Henry, Glennairn, and the Queen Emma.
0546 – There are at least 1,000 ships of all sizes in our sector alone. Naval bombardment intensifies.
Big battleships join in. On our port bow we see Warspite, the old lady of Salerno fame, belching fire from her 14-inch guns. Orion, Mauritius and another cruiser, the Black Prince, are belting away with all they have got.
Fleet destroyers are darting round us. Everybody seems to be there. “What a party”, I hear the captain say, “I wouldn’t miss this for all the tea in China”.
0550 – I saw the first flash from a German shore battery. Spitfires pass overhead. So far not one enemy plane has put in an appearance, but it is yet early.
It appears we have taken the enemy by surprise.
0555 – On our port beam I can see a think line of stout, tank landing craft heading towards the shore.
Minesweepers who have been close inshore sweeping are returning. They have got plenty of guts these fellows.
0600 – The coast is clearly visible. Enemy batteries are opening fire spasmodically. Cruisers are taking on shore targets. Big fires are burning ashore.
0630 – Whole invasion fleet is now waiting, just seven miles off Courseulles.
0650 – The Fleet destroyers now close the shore, bombarding any target they can see. A string of tank landing craft pass us, the Tommies sitting on the turrets of their tanks.
Weather is worsening. Spitfires and Airacobras roar overhead.
0700 – First wave of Fortresses come in. The roar of their engines, coupled with the crump of bombs and the crashing of shells, is terrific. Battleships, cruisers, monitors and destroyers are giving the enemy all they’ve got.
0720 – It is by now quite light. I can see the spire of the Berniere belfry. We are 9,500yds from the shore, still closing. The town is covered in smoke. Buildings appear to be smashed and crumpled.
0725 – The first wave of landing craft have reached the shore. Tracers from close-range enemy weapons are searing across the beach.
Men leap out of the craft and move forward. Tanks follow them. By now everything is an inferno. Fortresses have moved their bombing behind the beach-head and continue to plaster the Germans.
0735 – We move out on patrol. It is too early to know how the initial landings have gone. But they were made to split second according to timetable.
The battle goes on.