D-Day

EXACTLY 75 years ago – 6 June 1944 – a massive Allied invasion force descended on Normandy in France.

D-Day, Operation Neptune, as was its official codename, was the largest seaborne assault in history.

Woking Electric Supply Company’s wartime fire crew, with William Francis standing second from left

It was the beginning of Operation Overlord, which aimed to liberate western Europe from Nazi control.

News & Mail reader William Francis was an electrician in the RAF around the time of D-Day.

He was stationed at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. Although officially assigned to a training wing he recalls loading aircraft with bombs.

Before he was called up, he worked for the Woking Electric Supply Company.

During the Second World War it had its own fire service. Employees were formed into two crews who alternated keeping a night-time watch in case the works was bombed and set alight.

He recalls they had a covered cart with a ladder attached and all their own equipment including a pump.

An underground storeroom was used as an air-raid shelter where they could also get a bit of sleep.

He said: “I spent most nights on duty there until I was called up. But sometime after D-Day we were surplus to requirements in the RAF, so I transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and ended up in Scotland before returning to work at Woking Electric.”

For the full story, see the 6 June edition of the News & Mail