D-Day - Royal Air Force Forward Air Controllers on Omaha Beach remembered

75 years ago today, approximately 180 men of the Royal Air Force 21st Base Defence Sector (BDS), seconded to the US 5th Army, landed on Omaha Beach. Bloody Omaha Beach.

The photograph (above) shows the actual landing ship which carried the RAF men to the shore.

Only Britain’s Royal Air Force had the technological capability to provide the advanced mobile radar capability - Forward Air Control (FAC) in today’s jargon - to warn of incoming enemy aircraft and to direct Allied fighters to intercept them. 

Raf Memorial

The first RAF men were due to land on Omaha Beach four hours after the first wave of US Infantry had secured the landing ground, but due to the fact that the initial landing force was stuck on the beaches, they landed late, at 17.00, and found themselves operating under extremely heavy Nazi gunfire. They became sitting targets for the German mortar and artillery shells that picked them off, one after another. The support that they were given by the American infantry, who appreciated the importance of 21 BDS in providing valuable air support, was nothing short of heroic.

Six members of 21 BDS lost their lives. They rest today at the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Bayeux, just a few miles inland from where they fell.

A monument to the fallen stands at Vierville-sur-Mer.

A further 42 at least were wounded.

We shall remember them.


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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon


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