AN RAF veteran from Crewe this week dusted off the top-secret equipment he used to help direct aircraft over the Normandy beaches in the days following the D-Day landings.
Ahead of the D-Day 70th Anniversary in June, Sergeant Bernard Morgan, 90, saw the once-classified Type X machine at the Bletchley Park heritage site in Buckinghamshire.
Sgt Morgan used the Type X machine to encrypt messages that told aircraft where they were needed for immediate action, before sending the coded messages back to Britain to be actioned.
The RAF’s air superiority before, during and after D-Day was pivotal because it meant the Allied invasion could take place largely unchallenged by the Luftwaffe above, or by U-boats below.
“I was a 20-year-old code and cipher operator in June 1944 and my unit was No. 83 Group Control Centre, part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force,” remembered Sgt Morgan, whose unit had to wait until the Allies captured Caen before advancing.
Their cipher equipment was so highly sensitive that they couldn’t risk it being captured by the enemy.
“After landing on Gold Beach we went only 400 yards inland, but couldn’t operate until January 9 as the army had not advanced quite as far as they had planned.”
“Going ashore, I was very frightened, because you’d heard and seen all the gunfire from the beaches overnight and you did not know what to expect. Everyone was frightened, because you didn’t know what you were going into.
“When I look back on it, I feel very satisfied with my contribution towards the war effort, but it was only a small effort and the greatest honour must be given to the pilots.
“It was excellent visiting Bletchley Park. Seeing the machine that I operated in 1944 brought back a lot of wartime memories; both good and bad.”
Sgt Morgan continued to operate Type X machines until the end of the European war in May 1945.
He was re-posted to the Far East and stationed in India awaiting demob once Japan surrendered.