Feature Letter of June 2nd, 2023
Henderson, Kenneth Francis
[The letter below was written by Able Seaman Kenneth Francis Henderson to his wife Elsie, just four days prior to the D-Day landings at Normandy. He was writing from Weymouth Bay, England, where he was serving aboard the H.M.C.S. Thunder.]
When you will get this letter darling I don’t know. Maybe it won’t be until I get back or maybe not at all, but I am going to write it anyway and keep adding to it all that happened until the coming invasion is over.
For the past week now we have been preparing for the invasion and we are pretty sure that it is coming within the next couple of days, anyhow I hope it does because this waiting around doing nothing gets on your nerves after awhile. There are quite a few ships here in Portland Harbor just waiting to get the word. There are quite a few Canadian mine sweepers here along with all the rest of the destroyers, battleships, cruisers and other escort vessels and I am surprised that the Germans haven’t taken a crack at us before this.
It is going to be quite a show darling and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. About a week ago we had an air raid but it didn’t amount to much. They dropped a few bombs but they didn’t do any damage to the ships. They also dropped about six mines that the sweepers exploded next morning. One of them was exploded just a little ways off our stern and it shook the whole ship. We all thought we had been hit. The night before the search lights had picked up one of the German planes and I think about every gun in the fleet and on shore was firing at him. They sent off a very lovely barrage and it just reminded me of the old days in 41, when I was at Plymouth. Anyway we had our guns going along with the rest of them and I don’t know whether he was shot down or not but they can’t say we didn’t try darling. The last time I saw him he seemed to be going down out over the channel and the next day the radio announced that one plane had been destroyed in our area.
Every day, sweetheart, the planes leave here and head out over the channel to bomb Germany and just before I came in to write this letter I was watching about fifty of them pass over on their way to bomb the Jerries. When we go in we will have a very strong air cover. The day before yesterday we were told that we were going to land the Americans on the French coast and that it was going to be a hard fight, the hardest fight of the war so far they said. We are under an American Admiral, and he sent a message to every ship to be put on the bulletin boards, telling us just what we were going to do. We will likely be sweeping in front of the invasion force to clear the way for them. Every day the landing craft have been practicing on the beaches around here getting ready for the day when we will land on the coast of France. It will be a great fight darling and if we make it a success, it will the beginning of the end of the war.
There are a lot of ships in this port darling, but there are the same number and lots more in all the other ports along the channel and it will be a great sight to see the Channel just full of ships of all shapes and sizes heading for the French coast but we aren’t worried about the reception we will receive. It will be an awful fight but I am sure that we will win in the end, darling, and I hope that we get it over with in a hurry, because I miss you awfully my sweetheart and I want to get back home to you again soon. Well, darling, I guess I will close for this time but I will be back again in another day or so if anything exciting happens.
So long now darling,