Walter James (Jim) Baker DSM Royal Marines
544 LCA Flotilla: D-Day LCA (Landing Craft Assaults) 6 June 1944 – Juno Beach
Jim was the coxswain of a small assault boat in the first wave of landings. His was the only boat out of a flotilla of 24 to make it to the beach. Jim (18 at the time) was badly injured by a mortar explosion, but continued to do another 22 landings with the Americans.
We dropped anchor seven miles off Normandy, the next seven miles were mined by the Germans. Our first wave went in about 7.35am at Bernieres-sur-Mer (Juno Beach).
”As we ran up the beach one of our soldiers pushed the muzzle of his flame thrower into the slit of a German occupied bunker. One lone German surrendered to me and I have never encountered a more frightened human being in my life. He sank to his knees and sobbed. You can’t kill a man in that state.”
”We eventually got through the Atlantic wall onto the promenade in Bernieres-sur-Mer. We had to climb over bodies of allies to get a foothold. It’s funny but I remember the strangest thing. They lay there in battle dress bloodied but all of the lads had perfect creases in their battle dress trousers as if on parade.”
Extracts from the IWM archive.
For his actions on D-Day and I duly received a Gallantry Award from the King.
Jim, who is pictured at the Menin Gate, Ypres, on 11/11/11, died on 27 April 2016, at the Blesma Home in South Shore, aged 93.
All images © W N BISHOP