Polish Naval Memories of WWII









Franciszek Rumiński, Ordinary Seaman

Naval support for D-Day invasion of France, 6th June.

Ordinary Seaman Franciszek RumińskiORP SłazakThe 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 Ruminski


More from 1944

Jan Stępek

Jan Stępek

Franciszek Rumuński

Antoni Piątek

Edward Nikiel

Adam Sala

Władysław Pacewicz