My father spoke very little of being in the Normandy landings, mainly about being seasick on the way. Before we retraced his footsteps to liberated Holland, I'd filled in the gaps left from other sources with a trip to what was then the Public Record Office (PRO), since renamed The National Archives (TNA) - see first note in biro above).
Visit to PRO, Kew There was far less available on the internet and we didn't have a computer then anyway hence the train trip to Kew for which I had to book an appointment. I navigated the initial personal ID checks with one lengthy setback due to a transcription error on someone's part (could have been mine!) concerning the documents I'd come to read. But when I got through to the readers' reception area brandishing Dad's Soldier's Service Book, they could not have been kinder. The rest of the visit was a blur of navigating between locker room, own reading space, cafe, toilet, any other department of the PRO making sure all the time you had the correct combination of items needed for each. Example:my pen and other items had to stay in the locker. Instead they gave you a free pencil to make notes. And with neither pockets nor handbag to keep my locker key in, I was in a constant panic over losing it, bordering on paranoia, and missing the train back.
It was worth it.
Document WO [War Office] 171/1084 has a note: 11.6.44 10.00. 127LAA [my father's unit]: 7 Phoenixes sunk 3 Corncobs in & sunk. These were parts of Mulberry B and there was a later note for the night of 11 - 12 June that there was 'no enemy air activity.' The enemy was the weather. On 19 June 1944 the worst storm in living memory irreparably destroyed 21 of the Phoenix caissons on Mulberry A on the US Omaha beach. On sheet 14 there is a laconic note by Lt Butterfield (127LAA): sinking of 1 Phoenix during storm. 12 men missing. I remember now how I felt guilt and relief that my father, who served on the Mulberry, got back.
For a scientific but useful and watchable account of the Mulberry harbours and the storm by Professor Thomas Adcock and his former student Zoe Jackson follow this link:
It's almost two years since I published In Our Fathers' Footsteps (see under BOOKS). My latest book, One Dog and His Cop, about my cousin's police dog,was published 30 November this year (see under BOOKS).