D-Day Notes
by Chief Electrician's Mate Richard Harold Fisher, U.S.N.
Transcribed by Barbara Arnold

June 5, 1944 (D-Day H Hour Minus 0830 Hours)
General quarters (GQ).

DD (destroyer) ahead hits mine.

Beach head in sight. Continued bombings

June 6, 1944
40000 yards to go. Speed 6 knots. Mine sweeps clearing channel.

Heavy bombers start concentrating on beach head. Many explosions.
Planes shot down in flames. Bombing by flares.
Searchlights train seaward. Do not pick us up.

4 miles to go. Ahead very slow. Not as yet detected. Lost 2 (bugles?) at poker.
Time out for cup of Joe.

Set special sea detail. Concentrated bombings on Le Havre.
Texas has gone to her section of beachhead.

Anchors aweigh starboard. 6300 yards to beach. Standing by on main & secondary battery.
Light enough to see bombarding areas. Planes overhead.

Plane shot down. Hits off bow and explodes.

Minutes until open fire. Zero minus 0130 time.

Turrets I & II lets go salvo. Cans getting the range. Con on A.A. (anti-aircraft) emplacements
trying to shoot down spotting planes.
Main battery getting correct bearing. 5” battery very good. French cruisers coming up abreast.
Laying very good barrage on beach now. Opposition slacking off on beach. LEVE 687 first
landing craft to go into beach. Prob. ENG. Near miss on Higgins boat. Blasting
hell out of beach now.

French cruisers firing now. Turrets III & IV let go.

Fuses blow from heavy caliber firing. No planes at all visible. Rocket ships open fire.

H Hour. Firing has ceased from beach due to heavy haze. Landing craft hits the beach.
Right on the dot. Heavy LST (Landing Ship-Tank) moving in. About 8 pilots floating around us.
No one bothers about them. Main battery shaking hell out of Dist. (i.e., Forward District
part of ship).
Nothing give way as yet.
Mighty tired.

Higgins boat going out to pick up aviators. Pick up all survivors.

Received word from spotting plane that there seems to be no opposition for 3 miles inland.
Turrets III & IV firing again. Everything going well in other sectors. LCT coming alongside.
Turrets III, IV, V, VI fires to port.

Well just went topside during lull in firing. Our main battery has knocked out all its designated
targets. Many LCVIS' LCI's LCT's etc. (various types of landing craft) still plowing back and
forth to the beach. Hundreds of planes overhead. DD's still firing at strongpoints on beach.
Doing wonderful job. Taking wounded soldiers aboard. Top-side tore all to hell - concussion from continued firing. Slight over-cast. No Luftwaffe as yet. Many fires on beach. The way we stand
is DD's close in on the beach. Arkansas next followed by cruisers, land ships, and transports.
Our beachhead is in the center flanked on the left by British and right by Americans (Texas, Nevada).
All reports seem to be favorable.

Commence firing 12” on strong pill box on bluff 3 points abaft beam. Finally buried target after
switching to A.P. (Armor-Piercing) projectiles. Turrets 5 & 6 to get a cigar for that.
Cease firing. Planes bombing the town of Bayeux. Tin cans getting hard up for targets.
Request permission to shoot a gray automobile haul-assing up road. RAF pilot get pissed off
because they wouldn't let him strafe it.

Troops capturing prisoners. Not much news. Texas having trouble with her beachhead.
Receiving hits from shore battery. Think troops are getting it tough now. Not much progress.
Bringing many wounded aboard. Arms, legs shot off.

All hell broke loose. JU88 (German twin-engine fighter/bomber aircraft) just slipped in and
give us a near miss with a 500 pound concentrated air attack on us.
Bomb hit trips out No 1 generator. Get her back on the line. Our A.A. battery opening up now.
Shoot down 2 planes. Relieve Henley on 2 JV (Engineering Sound Powered Circuit).
Just got dope on that near miss. Twenty feet off beam fr 40. Directly abreast Forward District
by the way.
June 7, 1944
7 E boats (German fast attack surface boats) attack transports. CA (Heavy Cruiser) shoots
down another plane. Feel better now. Got a couple hours sleep.

H Time plus 24 hours.

Main battery opens fire on RR junction 8 miles inland. Junction demolished.
Train set afire. No word on us getting underway from this place.
Probably stay here as a A.A. fort until beachhead is well established.

Main battery continues to fire a designated target inland as directed by spotting planes.
Have demolished mortar concentrations and truck convoy.
Reported that Rodney & Nelson British BB's (Battleships) standing in. BBC News said Arkansas,
Texas & Nevada are leading invasion.
Just report direct hit on last target.

Still at GC (General Quarters). Continued firing at designated targets. Have scored direct hits on
all our targets so far. French cruisers (CLs - Light Cruisers) taking targets that are out of our range.

Red alert. Luftwaffe bombing British BB Warspite. Troops, tanks, jeeps, etc. really going ashore now. Been landing all day. Radio announces we have lost 2 DDs, one LST so far. Transport hits mine and catches afire. Strange as it seems there are a few emplacement right on the beach head that are still returning fire. We had completely buried them with salvos a number of times, but they dig out and resume fire. Augusta steamed in last night with a bunch of high-hats on board. Claim to have captured the town of Caen. So far, we have put out about 490 salvos from main battery. About 900 to go at least. Plane spotter reports German camouflage is excellent. Thousands of troops swarming all over the beach.

Spotting plane finds troop concentration in streets of small town. Open fire 3 turret salvos at a time.
15 direct hits in 22 salvos. Spotter shoots down ME109 (German fighter plane) that attacked him during spotting. Expecting heavy air and E Boat attacks tonight.

Hospital ship hit mine about 22000 yards out. Still afloat. Very tired. No sleep since yesterday afternoon.

June 8, 1944
Got a few hours sleep. Got underway during the night to avoid heavy air attack that struck ships. DD Jefferies hit by radio bomb. Eased around and anchored back at 0600. Plane finds target and we get a N.C. (No Change) after about 5 salvos. Admiral congratulates us on supurb firing. Feel sicker than hell. Guess this GQ is getting me down. Won't even have a bunk to go to after this is over. Damn thing blowed all to hell. Really have some work to do straightening this old gal out. Most light fixtures are just hanging by the cable. About 0300 last night after we got underway, the Germans attacked the convoy with glider bombs. Our jammer apparatus worked good. Out of about 18 of them, only one DD hit - sunk.

Open fire in early morning and continue all day. Scored direct hit on all targets including tanks, trucks, 6” gun emplacements, and small towns. Get a report that the Nevada has run aground. On the beach head, they are sinking merchant ships to make a dock for landing supplies. Troop movements have slacked off and ships are thinning out.

Shift anchorage. At GQ 3 days.

Red alert. Planes 190 degrees 19 miles. RAF shoots down 5. Wonder if old lady is getting any dope that we are in invasion. Guess folks back home are worrying twice as much as we are. In fact, no one is worrying in the least - silly as hell.

June 9, 1944
Pretty quiet tonight. Few air attacks. New twin mount DD Meridith hits mine and breaks in two. DE (Destroyer Escort) along with her blows up and disappears. Admiral Bryant and General Montgomery come aboard while Texas goes into Plymouth for more ammunition.

Underway for Texas sector. Fire control spotters with walkie talkie apparently knocked out since we get no word from them. Do not fire all day.

15 & 6 inch battery inland still occasionally drop one out among the ships here.

CA37 (USS Tuscaloosa) shoots down one of our own planes that got too close. All radio and radar are being jammed by the Germans and didn't get the recognition signal.

FW 190's (German fighters) dropping rocket bombs on convoys ahead of us. Underway to avoid air attack. Dive bombers overhead. Convoy throws up withering fire. Blast 5 German bombers out of the sky. German DDs & E Boats try to get through our outer screen. Not successful. 3” DD sunk.

June 10, 1944
DD hit by 15” shore battery fire. Sunk with 20 survivors. Just a lucky shot since they have no spotters.

Seabees and army engineers have completed an airstrip and docks for supplies to land. C47s (Transport Aircraft) coming in already. Liberty ship tied up to dock now. Docks made of concrete forms that are floated into place, then sunk. Using old scuttled freighters for break water.

Just took a jog around topside. Hundreds of ships all with their individual barrage balloons above them. Heavy shell fire heard in distance. Groups of transports and gliders passing. Saving our ammo for heavy counter offensive expected soon. No firing today.

June 11, 1944
Captain makes short speech congratulating the crew on its fine performance and on how lucky we are to all still be here. Chaplain follows with a prayer for all hands. Morale is exceedingly good at present. Most of the fellows wouldn't have missed for anything. In very close to the beach now. I'd say 2000 yds. Was looking through the glasses at the Radar Station we demolished. You can see the dead still littering the beach in some sectors.

Texas back in with full load of ammo.

Checked over circuits. All topside gear out. Searchlights, winches. Intensity lights, etc. Hell of a lot of work to do. They are opening the ship up a little now during the day (0500 - 2330), but still at GQ.

Another can (Destroyer) gets a fish (Torpedo) from an E Boat. Towing her in.

June 12, 1944
Engineering Department secure from General Quarters. Turn to clean up ship. Commence work on all circuits. Some men so tired they can hardly hold their tools. Wonderful day topside. Bunch of deck-apes get blistered from the sun already. Get both winches back in and all running lights but upper towing and white stern (???). Numerous grounds and shorts to clear up. Have to completely rewire forward part of the ship. Also L28 and L30.

Go to GQ for the night so the poor bastards work all day and are on watch all night. Admiral Kirk blows a little smoke up our ass in a short speech. Get word that we are leaving for Plymouth to replenish our ammo tomorrow.

June 13, 1944
Getting underway delayed. We have a target. Maybe Rommel's counter offensive is gaining momentum.

Fire control party call all 3 BBs (Battleships) to break up counter movement in Carentan area. We are first to get underway and first to target area. Initial salvos go over spotters head and land 600 yards beyond. He becomes frantic and relays “cease firing” but second and third salvos with 5 turrets gets a “no change”. We hit right down a column of tanks moving in to cut off our troops. Demolish 7 or 5. Other BBs did not fire.

Glider troops land in this sector. We move up in Nevada's position. Well within range of 15” shore battery now.

Get word to be on lookout for JU88s with 2 torpedoes - that firing this afternoon was at a mean 22,000 yards almost our maximum range.

June 14-15, 1944
Spotting plane finds a couple of targets. 75 mm emplacements. Have a hell of a time getting a hit in. In fact, 100 rounds. Putting the blame on the powder. Some think the lining of the guns are shot. Could be. PS. Just found out this is June instead of May as I had on all my entrys. Don't think I could stay in my sack all night now. Slept 6 hours and it seemed like 12. I predict the war with Germany will be over about this time next year.

Well if I can hold this pencil steady enough I will relate my harrowing experience. Was just up topside watching it get dark and maybe hoping for a little A.A. fire and a plane or two going down in flames. Just told Sam Pope I thought I heard a plane high overhead, but he said it was the Engine Room Exhaust Blower I heard. Anyway the radar hadn't picked it up. Just about then, there comes this terrible screeching and everyway I go it sounds like it going to hit on top of my head. I finally end up under Barbette IV and the bomb raises a 200 foot wave 60 yards off starboard quarter. It was later determined that it was one of those radio controlled rocket bombs weighing around 3000 pounds. It never did explode. Believe our new jammer deflected its course.

ME109 comes in bow on and drops a 500 pounder off the stern. They won't let the A.A. fire for fear of giving away location of ship.

June 16, 1944
Just come down from topside. Beautiful weather. The days are OK now, fairly quiet but these nights are sure playing hell with our nerves. Damned Luftwaffe overhead all night just waiting for us to show ourselves in some way. Some bastard dives his plane down in our general direction trying to make us open fire so his buddies can drop some eggs. We have been damned lucky so far. Well get set for another night - with no moon we hope.

June 17-24, 1944
Retire to H.M. dock yard at Plymouth England. Minor yard repairs effected. Get some of my gear back in. Started rewiring officers country.

June 25, 1944
Well the crew sure used up at least one of their lives today. We are damn lucky to be doing duty on top of this old ocean. It seems BB Div 5 was elected to go in and knock out Cherbourg's outer defenses. Well we get underway at 0600 from Portland with Texas, 12 cans and 2 sweeps. Get off the harbor about 1230 and they open up on the Texas with 4, 5 and 11 inch battery and gets two hits before she can get out. Then we move in and they start laying them all around us, over the bow, off the stern and through the mast. Topside was awash and personnel in Spot 1 was soaked with water from them. The old man got soaked too. Shrapnel was coming down like rain. We let go about 58 salvos and retired much to everybody's relief. If one of those 11 inchers had got in among those powder tins we would have still been going up. As it was, we were the only ship that got out without a hit. A number of men were killed and wounded on other ships. We have about come to the conclusion that those German gunners just don't live right or they sure would have got us. We got a report that we caused considerable damage with our firing although it sure didn't seem so. Cherbourg still stands.

End of Phase I Invasion of Normandy. Retire to Bangor Bay, Ireland.
Richard and Helen Fisher seen in a post war photo.
Dad's Normandy Invasion notes made aboard the USS Arkansas (Battleship) from June 6, 1944 to June 25, 1944. Richard Harold Fisher, was an electrician serving aboard the Arky on D-Day. I transcribed Dad's “diary” from a little black notebook in which Dad kept his electrician's notes. I have modified the notes only to spell out abbreviations and try to clarify for those of us who don't speak “Navy”. Hopefully, I have interpreted Dad's notes correctly in that respect. Dad was 23 on D-Day and I THINK he had already made CPO, but I'm not sure. Dad was a Navy career man and died post-service in 1984. He often said that serving at Normandy constituted the greatest and most proud moments of his life. The Arkansas was stationed off eastern Omaha Beach on D-Day in support of the US 29th Infantry Division. Dad's “diary” begins below  
Proud daughter, Barbara Arnold
Lakewood Ranch, Florida

Page published July 2, 2015