Gunner George Edward Colin Stott
Unit : 2nd Light Anti-Aircraft Battery
Service No. : 14370012
In May 1944 I was a gunner in the 2nd Air landing Anti Aircraft Battery of the 6th Airborne Division stationed at Bulford, Wilts when my troop commander Lt Thomson called me out and asked whether I was aware that there was to be an invasion of France to which I replied "Yes Sir, but I understand we are not going". "No, we are not", he replied "but you are because you are a radio operator and have just volunteered". Expressing my surprise he explained that the artillery officers of the Division had decided to send a party of approximately 30 gunners to fire captured German field guns and that I would accompany them on D Day and become the forward observation post to direct the fire by radio.
A few days later he produced a No 18 British army radio which was quite heavy and I expressed the opinion that I would have difficulty landing by sea and scrambling through the French hedges with this radio on my back! His answer, at the beginning of June, was to produce a bicycle - not a para bike but an old errand boys bike - similar to that used by Granville in 'Open All Hours' on TV. The radio fitted perfectly in to the metal pannier at the front and, being the obedient young soldier (aged 20), I followed his instructions and met the gunners on Bulford parade ground to proceed in trucks to a woodland near Southampton. From here we were to embark on a Landing Craft Infantry ship (L.C.I), along with members of No 4 Commando.
In the artillery party there were two young 1st Lts and approximately 25 gunners all of whom were strangers to me and I did not know their names. We arrived at Ouistreham Beach at 6.30am on D Day, and being one of the first to disembark with my bicycle, soon found myself in about 8ft of water. Out of necessity I had to ditch the bicycle/radio and struggle to swim ashore. Fortunately, I was a good swimmer and succeeded to find one of the officers and a gunner about 30 years of age already exhausted on the beach. There was no sign of any others from 6th Airborne when after a few minutes we decided to run inland.
As we progressed over the marshland we were hit by shrapnel from a German Mortar bomb and the officer and gunner were severely injured. I helped them back to the shore where the Medical Corps had set up a first aid post. I was very lucky and not injured so set off inland the following day. I was soon picked up by an Airborne officer in his jeep and became a gunner on site with the 4th Air Landing Anti Tank Battery with which I served the next 3 years in Germany, Malaya and Palestine.
I have often wondered about other survivors of my D Day party and despite making enquiries have not had any success. I fear all of my colleagues from 6th Airborne were lost. I would very much appreciate any knowledge your readers could share, or guidance they could give in finding out more about their fate. Contact Martin Stott, email@example.com.
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