All the LCTs in Force J, loaded vehicles at Stokes Bay and Gosport

June 4th, 1944
Stokes Bay and Gosport, England
12th Field Regiment LCTs ready for D-Day. ( Landing Craft Tanks )

“All the LCTs in Force J (the naval force which carried troops to Juno Beach for D-Day) loaded vehicles at Stokes Bay and Gosport, just to the west of Portsmouth, the other side of Portsmouth Harbour. There were three “hards” (beaches reinforced with concrete so they would not be churned up by heavy vehicles moving over them), and I have marked them with yellow arrows on the map below. All are within a few miles of each other. GH: Hardway. The concrete hard is still in use by the sailing club.
GF: what in 1944 was known as Beach Street. This is roughly where the modern Portsmouth-Gosport ferry arrives. G1 – G4: Stokes Bay. This is a very wide bay which had four hards, and therefore it is probably the most likely option simply because it had a greater capacity for embarking vehicles than the other two combined.”

A. Whitmarsh, Curator of the D-Day Story, museum in Portsmouth, England,

Operations Overlord ” The craft moved from Portsmouth to Southampton waters on the evening of June 4th. We had expected the area to be blanketed with a smoke screen to hide the preparations, but aside from the camouflaging of our guns with a huge net, which covered the whole gun space, no special precautions were taken. During the night we heard air raid alarms but no bombs were dropped near us. Our guess was enemy recce patrols. Saturday evening June 4th the wind came up, the glass dropped a bit, and the skippers got fidgety. On Sunday morning the familiar but hated signal came up. “ Postponed 24 hours”. The weather did not improve during the day and the wind was blowing just as strong Monday morning. However General Eisenhower had made his bold decision; in spite of the weather we were to push off. At 1100 hrs June 5th the first craft of “J” Force weighed anchor and headed for the RV. It was our unique experience to be first in many things later but everyone got a real “ kick “ from being first to leave our anchorage. We sailed past the whole invasion fleet of “J” Force in Southampton and Portsmouth harbours. The concentration of shipping in these waters had to be seen to be believed. It was a most impressive sight and we felt neither small nor insignificant when we saw was to follow in our wake.


DDAY-INVASION-FLEET-4-JUNE-1944 When the craft passed through the Portsmouth “ boom “, the Craft Commanders were allowed to open their sealed orders and maps and to brief their men. The plan for the British 21st Army Group was to assault the coast of Normandy with three Divisions up. The 50th Division on the right. The 3rd Canadian Division in the centre. The 3rd British Division on the left. The 6th Airborne Division was also to be dropped in the hours of darkness preceding “H”-Hour to hold the left bank of the Orne Between Caen and the coast. The specific job of our Division called for two assaulting Brigades, the 7th and the 8th, each supported by an assault Artillery group consisting of two Regiments. The 7th Brigade was to assault the beach and establish a firm bridgehead based on the main highway and railway line running east-west from Caen to Cherbourg, about twelve miles inland. The 8th Brigade was to come up on the left, establishing a firm start line for the reserve Brigade to come through at last light and capture Carpiquet airdrome. The 3rd British Division on our left were to take Caen. Optimistic objectives, events later proved, but everyone felt that nothing could stop us. Courselles-sur-Mer was our particular beach “Mike Green” we knew it as, and no one who saw it that fateful morning of June 6th, 1944 will ever forget it.

Lt.-Col. T. J. Bell M.C.

Excerpt from the book " Into Action with the 12th Field -