Sound: secret operations on D-Day

Top secret operation

As an officer, O'Brien Reeve got 48 hours notice of the D-Day landing and knew the American troops he was transporting were heading for Omaha Beach. But details about the landing were highly secret, and for everyone it was a waiting game.


It was a case of batten down the hatches, loading troops, guns – and they were kept there on board till we sailed, so they couldn't get out to talk to anybody, any civilians.

How many men were on board your boat?

About 70 or 80.

Did they get restless?

They wanted to get going. The inertia is terrible for fit and fighting people.

So how did they fill in their time?

Smoking cigars and playing cards, singing. They seemed happy enough, 'Let's get it with it', sort of thing.

When did the orders come that you were away?

The night of 4 June. We weren't allowed to open them till the 5th of June.

So they came to you in an envelope?

Yes, delivered, sealed. You weren't allowed to open till 5th and then realised where we were going and what column we were going to be in, who was going to be heading the column of ships going across the Channel. Of course there were thousands of them.

So until that moment it was completely secret?

Yes, absolutely.


O'Brien Reeve

O'Brien Reeve, flotilla officer, Royal Navy, 1944

O'Brien Reeve, 2004

O'Brien Reeve, 2004

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