DDAY LANDINGS: My father-in-law – Harold Welch – by Jackie Welch in our Family Department
Corporal Harold Welch, aged 31, from Liverpool, was serving in the Royal Army Service Corp predominantly as an Army Dispatch Rider and also a transport driver for the army trucks. Harold was involved with D Day and survived. A little while after the war ended, he relocated to Brighton with his wife Nora and their two sons. He sadly passed away in 1994 at the good age of 81. He did not like to talk about the war years however he did tell his sons about his involvement with the D Day Landings.
They have recounted his story as best they can remember:
Our father went on the D Plus 4 (4th day from the 6th June) with his motorbike and army truck landing at Omaha Beach. He departed from Gosport after taking days to reach there from Liverpool. He remembered the night he had to stay in Lincoln Cathedral before moving on the next day and someone decided to play the organ in the middle of the night to pass the time! Every day he would move on sleeping anywhere they could at nights if they were not able to secure a night at a base camp. Before he went across from Gosport he was waiting in the New Forest, where tensions were running high. Before he passed away, he went back to Fawley and he could remember a particular road that was full with army vehicles, tanks etc waiting to be taken across. The tanks were hidden under trees so they could not be detected. They did not get much food and were living off their wits and cigarettes. He did recall one story of a meal at one of the American camps, where he could not believe his luck. After he had delivered his dispatch he was offered a meal where they had tinned bacon and powdered eggs. He had not seen tinned bacon before and had not had an egg for 4 years. They cooked this sumptuous meal but before he could say anything and to his horror covered everything in maple syrup! The egg that he had waited four years to devour was ruined!
D Day approached and many men could not go across on that day as they were waiting in the queues that still snaked down the country. When Harold landed at Omaha, he could not believe the horror he was seeing. He would never go into any detail on what he saw and experienced but he would say that he was “lucky” that he went over on day 4.
Once landed he made many journeys to the frontline carrying dispatches for the men. On some missions he used to go ahead of the troops and he would be subject to sniper fire of which he did receive shrapnel wounds to his forehead. He was one of the lucky ones who survived, some of his good friends were not so lucky and he never spoke about them much but he never forgot them.
Following on towards the end of the war he ended up taking dispatches into Berlin. He spent many nights sleeping in ditches and trying to find food. Being a dispatch rider was a lonely existence at times until you reached another camp. After the war ended Harold was finally demobbed on Christmas Eve 1945 to meet his wife Nora at Lime Street Station, Liverpool.