Ordinary Seaman Franciszek Rumiński
The Normandy landings (codenamed Operation Neptune) were the landing operations on 6th June 1944 (D Day) of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation began the invasion of German-occupied western Europe and contributed to an Allied victory in the war.
The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 British, US, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight.
6th June, 1944, D Day: The thoughts of gunner/steward Franciszek Rumiński on board ORP Słazak heading for the coast of Normandy
As we head for the coast of France my mind goes back to the 19th August 1942 and the ill-fated raid on Dieppe. Once again I am glad to be a seaman and not a soldier, for on that day in August 1942 we became part of the terrible reality of war. We bore witness to the slaughter of brave men attempting the impossible. Was the coming day to see a repetition of that August nightmare? My ears are filled with the shouts and cries of that day. My eyes see the gun flashes and the enemy searchlights probing the darkness for their helpless victims. I know the gates of Hell are about to open for this armada of June 1944.
We are now closed up for action. I am at my action station. We quietly wait for orders to open fire. Our targets are German strongholds in the ‘Sword sector’ where we will be giving fire support to 41 Royal Marine Commando. The lessons of many landing exercises and the harsh experience of reality for ORP Słazak will once again be put to the test. It is getting lighter and the roar of heavy guns from battleships and cruisers herald the opening of the gates of Hell with a flourish that refuses to fade away.
We are soon in action. The troops are going in to the beaches. As the battle intensifies we become aware of bodies floating in the water. Slowly the battle moves off the beaches and we are supporting the advance of 41 Royal Marine Commando in the Lion-sur-Mer area with our guns. We receive a message of thanks for good shooting from 41 Commando.
Later we are in action against 3 enemy E-Boats [June 10th.] Słazak damaged one but she managed to escape to Le Harvre. Then we are hunting one-man submersibles which attacked the operational anchorage. While Słazak dropped depth charges we hunt close inshore with the ship’s boat and capture one operator of a damaged craft.
‘The war has been over for many years, but the memories & sounds never fade.’
- Franciszek Rumiński, Polish Navy with friends in 1939
- Polish Navy destroyer ORP Słazak which supported the Normandy invasion
- Crew of ORP Słazak rescuing shot down pilots
- Adam Sala who served on ORP Krakowiak, naval support of the Normandy landings
- Large landing craft convoy crosses the English channel 6th June 1944
- Map of the Normandy invasion area, June 1944
- The length of the DDay naval bombardment – piles of spent shell cases
- USS LST-21 unloads British tanks and trucks off Normandy
- DDay landings at Omaha Beach, Normandy, 6th June 1944
- British landing at Normandy, 6th June 1944
- The invasion at Normandy, 6th June 1944
- 1st Polish Armoured Division heading to Normandy 1944
- Soldiers of the Polish 1st Armoured Division during Normandy campaign 1944-45