Private Hill’s Diary: A British Army Doctor’s First-Hand Experience of D-Day Operations

On the 80th anniversary of D-Day, where Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to strike the first blow against Nazi Germany in turning the tide of World War II, a first-hand account of the day fateful resurfaced after it was originally published in the Leicester Chronicle/Mercury in 1946.

Private Hill, originally from Leicester, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in 1939 at the start of the Second World War. His six years of service saw him in action in Egypt, Libya, Palestine, France, Belgium and Germany.

The RAMC is a non-combatant corps where members are only allowed to use their weapons for self-defense. During World War II, they would accompany combat troops to the front lines to provide specialist emergency medical care, thousands themselves becoming casualties or prisoners in the process.

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During the D-Day operation, medical organization and supply was significant. Doctors, surgeons and nurses from the RAMC and the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps landed on the beaches alongside regular units.

Each unit had a regimental medical officer and his team, while each landing craft had at least one orderly. Stretcher-bearers were assigned to pick up the wounded and transport them to stations assembled on the beaches for urgent dressings, operations and transfusions.

At sea, 70 of the landing craft were assigned to transport casualties back to the fleet and then to hospitals on the south coast of England for further care. Private Hill’s vivid account of D-Day, as published in The Leicester Chronicle in October 1946, has resurfaced, providing a stark and intimate look at the events of that historic day.

Wounded Americans from Normandy beachheads seen here arriving at an undisclosed British port on the south coast, June 9, 1944
(Image: Mirrorpix)

His journal entries detail the intense conditions on the ship he was stationed on, the haunting memories of specific casualties, the relentless enemy attacks and the daily toll of wounded soldiers they cared for. These personal records provide a unique insight into the vital support roles that played a key role in the triumph of Operation Overlord.

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