Box 023, folder 44: Douglas S. Axford

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Box 23, #44 AXFORD, Douglas S. 3rd Can. Div. Canadian

Last edit about 3 years ago by Aknight98
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NOTHING For Cornelius Ryan Book about D-day THOUSANDS OF MEN, ON LAND AND SEA AND IN THE AIR, PARTICIPATED IN THE INVASION OF NORMANDY BETWEEN MIDNIGHT JUNE 5, 1944 AND MIDNIGHT JUNE 6, 1944. IF YOU WERE ONE OF THEM, PLEASE ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTIONS. What is your full name? Douglas Stanley AXFORD What was your unit and division? HQ RCA 3 CDN Infantry Division Where did you arrive in Normandy, and at what time? Berniers-sur-mer - approximately 6 o'clock in the evening of 6 Jun 44 What was your rank on June 6, 1944? Sergeant What was your age on June 6, 1944? 23 Were you married at that time? Yes What is your wife's name? Joyce Kathleen AXFORD Did you have any children at that time? No What do you do now? Warrant Officer in the Canadian Army at Army HQ, Ottawa When did you know that you were going to be part of the invasion? I was one of the planning group for Operation Overlord and planning was started, insofar as I was concerned, in the spring of 1944 - March/April What was the trip like during the crossing of the Channel? Do you remember, for example, any conversations you had or how you passed the time? The channel was very rough and skies were overcast. I was on a LST and there were several seasick. Conversation was kept to a minimum, everyone with his own thoughts. The general topic of course was where were we landing, when and what would it be like when we got there. A great many of the men played cards or tried to read books. I myself was doing a lot of thinking, wondering and worrying. No unusual conversations are outstanding in my mind. What were the rumors on board the boat, ship or plane in which you made the crossing? (Some people remember scuttlebut to the effect that the Germans had poured gasoline on the water and planned to set it afire when the troops came in). Rumors ran from wild. The likely places of landing, for instance - anywhere from the lowlands to the south of France, what the infantry would be up against etc.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 2 - Your name D S Axford Did you by any chance keep a diary of what happened to you that day? No, I have never kept a diary. Were any of your friends killed or wounded either during landing or during the day? No, all my friends, in fact our whole HQ landed safely. Do you remember any conversations you had with them before they became casualties: N/A Were you wounded? No Do you remember what it was like--that is, do you remember whether you felt any pain or were so surprised that you felt nothing? N/A Do you remember seeing or hearing anything that seems funny now, even though it may not have seemed funny at the time? The main scene, which I now think comical, was during our disembarkation from the LST to a Rhino Ferry taking us into the beach. One of our Liaison Officers, in jumping from the LST ramp, fell and either twisted or broke his ankle (I forget which). He was brought back to the LST and as far as I know never did land on the beach until about four months later. Do you recall any incident, sad or heroic or simply memorable, which struck you more than anything else? The only thing I remember which to me was sad was the wrecked landing craft on the beaches and the damaged and blown up equipment lying about. During the evening, when our HQ made its first stop, there in the field opposite to us were four self-propelled guns of one of our field artillery regiments which had formed in line to go into action, but had been hit by German 88mm guns in succession and all crews had been killed, or so it was reported.

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- for Cornelius Ryan 3 - Your name DS Axford In times of great crisis, people generally show either great ingenuity or self-reliance; others do incredibly stupid things. Do you remember any examples of either from D-Day? No, I cannot recall any examples of stupidity. Our men had been trained very well, and although we were scared, no one was unduly careless. Our CRA (Brigadier PAS Todd) was very calm and collected and it seemed as if he was enjoying himself. He always had a smile and nothing seemed to bother or worry him. Where were you at midnight on June 5, 1944? On a LST in the English Channel. Where were you at midnight on June 6, 1944? Just outside Bernieres-sur-mer, Normandy, France about two or three miles inland from the beaches. Do you know of anybody else who landed within the 24 hours of D-day, June 6, as infantry, glider or airborne troops, or who took part in the air and sea operations, whom we should write to? All of my comrades have since been released from the Army. However, Brigadier PAS Todd, the CRA of 3 Cdn Inf Div is now retired and is the President of the Hamilton Transportation Company, Hamilton, Ont.

PLEASE LET US HAVE THIS QUESTIONNAIRE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, SO THAT WE CAN INCLUDE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE BOOK. WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE YOUR STORY ON SEPARATE SHEETS IF WE HAVE NOT LEFT SUFFICIENT ROOM. FULL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT WILL BE GIVEN IN A CHAPTER CALLED "WHERE THEY ARE NOW;" YOUR NAME AND VOCATION OR OCCUPATION WILL BE LISTED. THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP. W.A. Milroy Lt.-Col. Director of Public Relations (Army) Cartier Square, Ottawa, Ontario

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