The stories behind the story
War diary extract - 6th June 1944 - D-Day
"Sea still rough and still baling at daybreak. Can see flashes on the horizon in the direction of France – that’ll be the bombers. We’re supposed to land at ‘H’ hour … "
Best pal of Doug's, Sgt Isaac (Ike) Rawson 4392434. "Part of the family"
Doug Gray was there on D-Day and beyond. He wrote his diary as things happened and fascinating it is too. He even wrote a diary entry on the day he won his military medal, before he knew he'd won it!
The diary’s been supplied by Doug’s family. The entries start just before D-Day and finish several weeks after, so it’s quite a rare historical record because soldiers were forbidden to keep diaries in case they got captured. Doug's diary tells a really excellent story with drama, tragedy and humour.
17th June 1944
"Poor old Topper runs into a Spandau and gets five bullets in him. Marvelous piece of work by an officer getting him out. Doc thinks he might pull through. Hope so, as he's the best Sergeant in the Battalion and hates Jerries more than anyone, on account of him seeing his brother killed next to him at Akarit."
A pal of Doug’s, Oscar Topham, nickname Topper, ran an ice cream parlour. Every Saturday morning before the war Doug (and son, Doug!) would meet Oscar there for a natter.
Son, Doug Gray, with a display he created in France at a local commemorative ceremony to mark 'Peace in Europe 1945' - 70 yrs on.
Doug with wife Bids on their wedding day
1947 - Victory Parade/Freedom march - The former Green Howard comrades march through Bridlington
Great group photo of 7 Green Howards Battalion C1940
Glossary of Terms:
Shufty Kite - reconnaissance plane
Do a Duffy - make a cock-up!
Cushy one - A minor wound necessitating some time away from the front line
Blighty one - A wound serious enough to require the recipient to be sent home (to England)
NAAFI - Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes is an organisation which runs recreational establishments needed by the British Armed Forces. In war torn France it probably just meant tuck shop!
The Hards - In May 1942, Mountbatten ordered the construction of 11 purpose built areas of hard standing, 'hards', to serve landing craft and ships that would support his Commando operations on the European coast. They were all constructed in the Portsmouth area.
Bully - Corned Beef - a staple of the British troops - see Wilf Shaw's podcast to appreciate the finer dietary niceties of bully!
Tiffin - A light midday meal (luncheon) - Bill Cheall was hit by shell shrapnel whilst having tiffin - he got a Blighty one!
Found a cherry tree and gave them the big licks - Catch question. Found a cherry tree and ate the lot!
The Story of the Green Howards,1939-45, Capt W A T Synge
Fighting Through from Dunkirk to Hamburg, Bill Cheall, Pen and Sword
Ike's war grave together with Bill Parkinson
Bill Cheall's published memoirs, which depict his rescue by Capt Woods and many other episodes from WW2. Click for more information.