Ben Platts' Diary.
D-Day & South of France.
Saturday 3rd June 1944 - Greenock, Scotland

We were told "This is it", and after, in the mess, the lads studied and pondered how and where we were going to invade, as though we were all Admirals...
Very Amusing.
No one seems to be very worried, but they think we have a lot to do. And so do I! The majority of them prefer being on the ship, instead of in the army.
In the Army.
We met 36 Merchant ships, and sailed with them for over 8 hours. That made our Force, 3 Battleships, 9 Cruisers, and 26 Destroyers. Total 74 Ships. We left them 7 o’clock, time now 8 o’clock.
The BUZZ says ZERO HOUR 4, Monday Morning 5th June. Some say it exactly 4 years ago, we left DUNKIRK
Got action rations today, consisting of 4 Barley Sweets, 6 Horlicks Tablets, I packet chewing gum. I also bought 8 Bars Chocolate and 8 packets gum, at canteen. We also got lifebelt light, just in case.

Sunday 4th June 1944

Got up at 3, visibility very poor. Passed convoy of 42 Merchant Ships, at 10 o’clock.
Told an hour before, that the weather had cancelled the invasion for 24 hours.
The only grumble the lads have, is that it means 1 day longer to leave.
2 o’clock passed, 34 more ships, weather very poor, and raining.
Dawn, action stations at 5 in the morning.
Time now 9.30.Direction we are going in due South. The sun is shining now, but there is plenty of ground swell.
I expect there are 100’s of ships turning round, all feeling as we do.
At one time today, one could count 64 ships alone.
Ships today, Battleships 2, Cruisers 7, Destroyers 20, Merchant 76, Total 105

Monday 5th June 1944

Dawn action stations at 5. Secured at 6
Captain said that the action was to be carried out & that he would wear the Maori Skirt, & for us to do our best.
Met 3 Yank Battleships & 2 French Cruisers at 12 noon.
Passed 40 Landing Craft at 12.30, & 20 merchant Ships. 2 tugs & 8 Destroyers at 5 o’clock.
Real action stations tonight, till I don’t know when.
ABOUT 7.30 tonight, we all meet just off the Isle of Wight & as we are faster, we just stooge around, & then head straight south, together with the 15th and 40th MINE SWEEPING FLOTILLA, who will sweep a path for us. We lay off the coast till it is light enough for aircraft to spot for us, & then slowly & accurately bombard the battery’s, & if the 16inch Battery starts firing, the Warspite has to attend to her.
We stay until our ammo is done, & go to Pompey for more, & return.
Every night, we anchor off shore with hands fell in, as for entering harbour, & the Band playing. To boost up the soldiers.
We also get a personal message from Eisenhower.
Gliders, & Planes carrying Paratroops, will be coming over all night, & we have not to fire at anything, unless it attack us.
Closed up at action stations at 9.30.

Tuesday 6th June 1944

Spent last night in second degree of readiness till 5.00, the ACTION
The Cruisers opened up first, as it was not light enough for a plane to spot for us.
At 5.45 3 torpedoes was fired at us, & all missed, but one hit a Norwegian Destroyer amidships, breaking her back. She went down in 3 minutes, showing her stern & bows above water.
Two German Destroyers attacked us, & we got vengeance, by blasting her with our 15 inch guns, & she sank. E boats were reported, and 1 Sub, no planes.
We engaged our Battery target, & completely silenced it. Troops went in at 7.30, thousands of them. The paratroops landed during the night & attained their allotted objective.
We have been bombarded all morning, I was nipping around with 6 inch shells, at 5.30, and Cordite at 6.
Went into Galley at 8, just after 50 Boston’s, has passed over, plenty of air cover.
I have just come down from the upper deck, after seeing a plane come down in flames, time 2 o’clock, lovely & warm just lying off the coast about 3 miles.
Came down to the mess for a wash, at 4. The first for 24 hours, & one of the ships cats, fast asleep!
Heard the news, & saw about 200 Gliders going in to attack, a most impressive sight.
Told to work the middle watch, & finish till Thursday, not very lucky, am I?
Returning to Pompey for ammo, & fuel. We have fired 225 15inch shells today. We are going with the monitor Lord Roberts, to Pompey, arrive noon tomorrow. Hope to have a run ashore, & get some mail.

Wednesday 7th June 1944

Reached Pompey at 8 in the morning, but I was fast asleep. I woke at 1, had dinner, & slept again from 2 till 6.30, time now 7. Last night passed very quiet, it was very hot in the Galley.
Started ammo’ing at 8, just finished. The blast from the guns, has smashed our boats.
A P.O., who went ashore, brought of a paper, that said the ship had fired the first shot.
Going out again, in a half hours time. No Shore Leave.

Thursday 8th June 1944

A ship blew up against us at 1 o’clock, we were told it was loaded with ammo. Action Stations sounded, suspected E Boats, & Destroyers. Being on the first watch. Our Coastal Forces engaged the Destroyer, and sank one. I saw a body float past, late last night, it was pretty gruesome.
About 5.30, we opened fire at something. Hands went to breakfast at 6, & we dropped anchor at 6.30, & we start bombarding at 7.30. Did our "shoot" quite well, & went on the upper, & saw dogfight. The jerry was shot down. One came down and machine gunned us. Saw a wonderful sight of ammo going up. This was at 2, & smoke still rising from it now, time is 6.30.
The ship was mentioned on the 1 o’clock news. We have been shooting all afternoon very steady. I turn to in the Galley at 8.
At 8.30 2 F.W.190s, dived and bombed the beach, & every ship opened up at them. They soon beat it.
Alarm, “to arms to arms” went twice during the night, so I slept near my action station, on the Torpedo mess deck.

Friday 9th June 1944

Three air raids, up till now, 10 o’clock. 8 bombs dropped close at 5,but I slept on. We have been bombarding all day. We had several air raids, and I expect one of our pilots got a shock. He came over, & didn’t give his recognition signal, so everyone of our guns opened up at him. Luckily we missed!
The last raid lasted 3 hours

Saturday 10th June 1944

We have been bombarding rail installations all the day, & have put in some very good shooting.

Sunday 11th June 1944

We have only had one raid up to now 1 o’clock, & have done no shooting. We are going to bombard a Bridge & Rail Installation, 11 miles away. We hope to fire 450, 15 inch shells, between 10 tonight & 6 in the morning.

Monday 12th June 1944

Had just one raid today, and it is getting rather monotonous. We had a E Boat alarm last night, it lasted an hour.

Tuesday 13th June 1944

Fired 250 shells last night at Caen & another 60 this afternoon. We had several near misses with bombs last night, and have had 2 raids today. Fired another 20 15 inchers before 12 midnight.

Wednesday 14th June 1944

Everyone is getting choked. It is the same every day. Air raids, Bombardments, and E Boat attacks, & no sleep till 5 in the morning.
Jerry is a good bloke when it gets dark, but when its light, you don’t see much of him.
We have just fired 25 15inch progies, at some German camp. Saw a blazing ammo ship last night, and did it go off with a bang.

Thursday 15th June 1944

Nothing happened till this afternoon till we started shooting at a 6 inch Battery. We silenced it, & be damned if another Battery didn’t fire at us! They got to close, so we went into action, going astern.
We quietened them.

Friday 16th June 1944

Nothing happened, only 3 raids, and a few mines dropped.

Saturday 17th June 1944

Got first mail for a fortnight, & in the afternoon fired 38 shells. One was our 1000th round, and it got a Direct Hit.
Mentioned 5 times on radio today.

Sunday 18th June 1944

Set sail for Pompey. Arrived 2.30.

Monday 19th June 1944

Tied up alongside & I went ashore and got canned.

Tuesday 20th June 1944

Went ashore, and met derby’s sister Lynn, and had a very good time.

Wednesday 21st June 1944


Thursday 22nd June 1944

Went swimming at Gosport. At night, went to Dorking, and got drunk

Friday 23rd June 1944

Went to Derby’s again, and got happy again.

Saturday 24th June 1944

Left Jetty, and have no leave, we are at a minutes’ notice

Sunday 25th June 1944

Nothing happened.
I saw 2 Doodlebugs.

Monday 26th June 1944

Done nowt but rain

Tuesday 27th June 1944

No leave

Wednesday 28th June 1944

No leave

Thursday 29th June 1944

No mail

Friday 30th June 1944


Thursday 3rd August 1944

Sail to Gibraltar arrive 10th August.

Thursday 10th August 1944

Sailed from Gibraltar to Algiers arrive 11th

Friday 11th August 1944

Sailed from Algiers to Toulon.
Told that “This is it again”

Sunday 13th August 1944

Our Force is 1 battleship (U.S.), 6 Cruisers, 9 Aircraft Carriers
DAWN, Action Stations at 4.
Bombarding at 6. Everyone thought that this would be worse than Normandy, but is OK up to now.
We have only fired 20 shells, its now 1pm, and it has just come over the wireless, that there has been another landing. Captain told us that on our Sector RED, the troops have gone a mile inland.
Churchill came past the ship. A Jerry plane had been over 5 minutes before.

Wednesday 13th August 1944

Fired 12 rounds at a Fort, & an unusual thing happened. They waved a white flag, & came out & gave themselves up to the ARMY.
Our shells, at a range of 6 miles, were within 50 yards. They blew in the Fort walls, & blew out 2 guns.
The Admiral signalled us "Never has so much been achieved by so few in so short a time"
Set sail for Corsica at 7.

Monday 21st August 1944

Still at Corsica

Wednesday 23rd August 1944

Left at 9.30 at night to go to Algiers.

Thursday 24th August 1944

Received an order to go back to the OP area. Everyone chocka.

Friday 25th August 1944

Arrived OP Area in the afternoon. Bombarded straight away. Fired 38, Target destroyed.

Saturday 26th August 1944

Bombarded again. 48 Shells.

Sunday 27th August 1944

Got a surprise. A Yank Destroyer sighted a boat, & it contained 13 Jerry with a white flag. the Destroyer picked them up & brought them aboard. Me, I saw them quite plain. There was more Lads on the Upper Deck, than there was when the King passed us Scapa.
The Jerries have a Mess on their own, & have a Sailor messman. Just after they came aboard, we had a shoot..49 shells. The Spotter plane went down to look at the target, & some men in a slit trench, fired rifles at him. Now, after destroying a Lighthouse Fort, & a Battery, the men in the trench have lost all interest in the war.

Tuesday 29th August 1944

Left Corsica 29th August, arrived Algiers 31st August.

Thursday 7th September 1944

Left Algiers for Gibraltar

Friday 8th September 1944

Arrived Gibraltar

Monday 11th September 1944

Left Gibraltar for Greenock

Sunday 17th September 1944

Arrived Greenock
At Greenock till 19th December
To Pompey 21st December.

I left the Ramillies on 12th October 1945.