Thursday, 22 April 2010
D DAY AND THE ESTUARY
In 1941, Percy Bradford, who was a Trinity House pilot joined the Exmouth Police War Reserve. One of his wartime duties was to organise moorings for the many barges that, in 1944, came to be based in the Estuary in preparation for the D Day landings. These were strung out like a giant’s footprints between Exmouth Bight and Powderham Castle. The United States Navy and G.I.s of the Ivy Division were ashore in Exmouth. General Eisenhower came to visit and to encourage. There was fun to be had in the mild spring weather of 1944 but every man and maid knew that the happy days were numbered.
On the fifth day of June, the day before D Day, Percy was ordered to report to H.M.S. Tennyson. Tennyson was one of His Majesty’s ships ashore. It was the Imperial Hotel in Exmouth by another name. Percy was given sealed orders to take out to the anchored tugs and their barges now ready and waiting beyond Exmouth Bar. He went out in the pilot vessel and delivered the orders to the senior master. The master read his orders and signalled to the other tugs. Within two minutes every vessel was sounding its whistle. Then, in choppy seas, the little fleet moved away, bound for Normandy and the beaches.
For more on World War Two and the Estuary see the articles by Ian Dowell for Key News.