Drummond ‘Spike’ Window

In 1944 I was a gunner aboard the light cruiser HMS Glasgow. Following our encounter with a German flotilla in the Bay of Biscay and exercises with the US Rangers off Lamlash, we continued to exercise between Greenock and Plymouth prior to being made ready for our part in the biggest assault in history against the Germans in Normandy.

D-Day was scheduled for 5 June but weather conditions resulted in a 24-hour delay. We had just left Belfast Lough with the American Western Task Force and had to remain at sea awaiting the signal to proceed. On our arrival at Point Z, about thirteen miles south-east of the Isle of Wight (codenamed ‘Piccadilly Circus’), we fell in station with the US Task Force 124, under command of Rear-Admiral John L Hall USN, ready to take up our position off the coast of Normandy as part of the Bombardment Group supporting the assault on OMAHA beach. This was to be one of the biggest memories of my life in the armed forces.

After supporting the landings on D-Day, we continued to support various US army units in the drive on Cherbourg. Then on 25 June we took part in the final assault on Cherbourg as part of Task Force 129 under Rear-Admiral Morton L Deyo USN. Minesweepers cleared the way ahead as we moved in for the assault, then suddenly the German shore batteries opened fire. During our battle with them, which lasted approximately three hours, HMS Glasgow was hit by shells amidships and aft. We suffered some wounded but none killed. During this action I can remember my CPO saying, ‘How about a run ashore, Spike?’ whilst shell splinters were whistling all around us.

After the fall of Cherbourg we received a signal from Rear-Admiral Deyo: ‘Though handicapped by poor spotting conditions ashore and seriously threatened by efficient shore batteries, you gave a fine performance of the greatest value to the army at a critical time. Well done.’ On our return the wounded were put ashore for treatment and we spliced the main brace prior to proceeding to Newcastle for repairs and a few days leave.

I have returned to Normandy as a member of the D-Day and Normandy Fellowship and the Normandy Veterans Association up to June 2009, the 65th anniversary of the greatest memory of my life.