Hayling and its D-Day secret – Nostalgia

Like most of you who have lived in the area for many years and perhaps visited Hayling Island on numerous occasions, the thought of the Second World War never really entered my head while I was there.

Friday, 25th January 2019, 3:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 7:09 pm
No, not the D.Day beaches of Normandy but Fox Red beach, Hayling Island.

There were times when I was very young and entering the pill boxes that littered the sandy beaches that it might have brought a question or two up, but nothing to bother me.

Then I read a new booklet written some eight years ago by the late A D Higham. It has been brought to life by Ralph Cousins and like most of Ralph’s booklets –of which he has produced more than 50 – they always cut to the chase.

This booklet goes right to the heart of the matter and leads straight into the plan of Operation Fabius, as it was called.

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Charge and we see troops landing at Fox Red beach close by Norfolk Crescent, Hayling Island.

The history of D-Day has been written and filmed numerous times so Mr Higham’s book about the secret rehearsal landing on Hayling's beaches are a revelation to myself and, I shouldn’t wonder, many others who read the book.

It tells of the hundreds of craft that were sent around the Isle of Wight from the Solent to give a feeling to the troops at sea that they were the same distance away from Normandy.

Few capital ships, battleships and heavy cruisers that were later deployed in France were used, but destroyers covered for them.

The beaches were laid out as four landing sites and named Fox Red, Fox Green, Easy Red and Easy Green.

D-Day rehearsal book cover

More than 200 ships were involved and after unloading the troops they moved inland so that later waves of men could land.

Later, the landing craft returned to embark the men back to their encampments to await the real event on June 6.

In tomorrow’s column there is more on the story and a map.

The following photographs all come from the booklet priced at just £6 +p&p from Ralph Cousins on (023) 9248 4024.

Troops march off a Landing Craft Tank (LCT) 704 at Fox Red beach, Hayling

It was sad to hear that the former lead singer with the 1960s/70s group Marmalade has died aged 72.

Dean Ford sang on all the group’s hits which began in 1969 with the cover of The Beatles’ Ob-la-di, Ob-la da.  

Another 10 singles made the charts. Perhaps the greatest written by Ford was Reflections of My Life which had just about the most prophetic words ever written for a pop song.

The lyrics meant much to me especially in periods of sadness, worry and heartache.

‘The world is a sad place, a bad place, a terrible place to live,

‘Oh, but I don’t wanna die.’

I am sure many of you will remember the words.

Put the lyrics into YouTube and song will come up.