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Captain Barry Murdoch

6th Airborne Division - Glider Pilot Regiment - No.1 Wing - D Squadron

Sword Beach

 

I took off at 0125 hrs on June 6th, but as soon as I was Airborne I knew that I was in for a hard journey. Glider was grossly overloaded and controls were sloppy. I had to keep on picking up my wings with rudder. I warned my tug-pilot to take turns carefully. Later in avoiding another combination my tug took violent avoiding action turning to Starboard. I followed as best as I could but in order to avoid a collision had to go down into a low-tow position. The port yoke caught over my pilot-head. I attempted to free it but got out of position and the rope snapped taking the pilot-head with it. I forced landed near WINCHESTER - no casualties - nose wheel of glider broken. I took the gun and jeep out realising that I must get back to Tarrant Rushton at once in order to get over in the next lift. On arriving at Tarrant, I reported to 38 Group and asked permission for my glider to be placed in four of Hamilcars that evening. It was granted.

We set out again at 7.25 p.m. on 6th June arriving after an uneventful trip. Light flak was encountered. Landing O.K. Gun and jeep out in 25 mins. Reported to R.V. and Lieut. Colonel Murray, Major Royle, Adjutant and Muir - proceeded to 5th Para. Bde H.Q. for night, pending taking up a gun position in early hours. At 0330 hrs 7th June took up position in hedgerow 1 mile south of RANVILLE. Dug in with some members of 12 Para. Bn. At 12 noon jerry attacked our left flank, mortar and M.G. fire kept us in slit trenches. I was observing for the gun. I saw a tank which was firing H.E. and M.G. I explained the position of it but Gun Det. would not open fire. At last I persuaded them and I loaded the gun. Layer scored hit and put the Tank Mk IV out of action. It was burning furiously - I did not see anyone get out of it. Another tank spotted us and opened fire with M.G. - took to slit trenches. Tank fire H.E. - killed Layer, Gun Det. Comdr. and wounded driver. I ordered paratroopers to move up the hedgerow to a new position. I sent for Stretcher-bearer meanwhile applying First Aid to Gun Det. Comdr. who was dying and then to jeep driver. I asked for volunteers to keep gun in action. A Para. Sgt. said he would come over shortly. I then saw another tank and ran to the gun - it was moving so I aimed on its nose, but missed. It turned for home and was at once hit by another gun - the tank Commander got out, we opened fire on him - tank then blew up. I found gun breach wide out - it would not return on its slide. Found that recuperator had been locked - Gun u/s. Took jeep with breach block which I removed from gun and all remaining ammunition and salvageable kit belonging to dead and wounded gunners to Div. H.Q. and reported to C.R.A. pointing out position of u/s gun. I was ordered back to the beaches.

(Source: Operation "Tonga" , Report)