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Voices of D-Day: Ralph Jenkins

I was a twenty-four-year-old pilot, and I thought the German navy scarcely existed and would offer no resistance to the invasion. I was the squadron operations officer of the 510th based at Christchurch, which was west of Southhampton.

We had been confined to the base. For the past several weeks, tremendous quantities of military gear had been heading to the southern ports of England. There was little doubt that the invasion was at hand.

In the early morning hours of June 6, we were summoned by our intelligence officers to the ready rooms and were briefed on our missions for the day. We were disappointed to learn that we had not been assigned to do close air support or fighter bombing on the ground in advance of the invasion forces. Instead, we were to go out over the English Channel, out toward the tip of the Brest Peninsula, and look for units of the German navy that could menace the invasion troops. We were very disappointed. It was very boring. We saw no submarines or traces of submarines.

We did finally see a large ship heading for the Cotentin Peninsula. I descended from twenty thousand feet to ten thousand to have a better look, and suddenly the sky was filled with antiaircraft fire coming from this ship. I reported this to headquarters. I suspect it was a German ship heading for the invasion area. This was most likely the only capability left in the German navy to resist the invasion.

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