Albert Potterton

Photo:Albert Potterton pictured in 1945 after his return to Britain.

Albert Potterton pictured in 1945 after his return to Britain.

Albert Potterton

The Home Guard

Albert Potterton talks about his experiences in the Home Guard.

D-Day

Albert Potterton tells of his memories of D-Day.

'The noise was tremendous'

Albert Potterton talks about arriving in Normandy.

'A soldier fighting a soldier'

Albert Potterton talks about his experience of combat.

Recollections of life as a Royal Marine Commando and D-Day.

Becoming involved in the war effort

When war was approaching in 1939, Albert Potterton was eager to join the war effort. Too young to join the Armed Forces, Albert left his job as a messenger boy in the City to start work at the Woolwich Arsenal. Further immersing himself in the war effort, Albert also joined the Home Guard. Finishing work early one day, Albert was heading out to meet a friend:  

‘Just as I was walking along the Old Southend Road towards Dagenham, I suddenly saw these enormous flights of aircraft coming across and this was the start of the Blitz. The first thing I saw was bombs coming down in the Woolwich and Plumstead area and an almighty explosion and then they came across the Beckton gas works and they blew up six of the gas armatures, one after another’.  

Going to work the next day, Albert realised that the Arsenal had suffered damage and that his department had been bombed. Albert took on temporary work whilst waiting to be called up.

The Royal Marines and D-Day

Volunteering for Submarine Service in the Royal Navy, he was eventually called up to join the Royal Marines in 1942.  Rather than joining a ship, Albert’s battalion became a fighter battalion, more like the Army than the Navy. As the war progressed, the battalion became part of the Combined Operations and was reformed as number 47 Royal Marine Commando in 1943. The training was hard and it soon became clear that the Commando was training for an invasion. In June in 1944, No. 47 Royal Marine Commando took part in the invasion of Normandy. Albert recalls:

‘When we were leaving Southampton, I can remember the captain calling over the tannoy system, ‘We’re now entering mined waters’ and that really put the fear up with us because we realised that we had such a long crossing to do and eventually we were onboard ship. We were delayed because of the weather so we were in this precarious sort of position so we had the fear of the floating mines. We knew we were gonna face the enemy very, very soon and so we were all very, very uncertain, trying to keep up our cheerfulness which was very much lacking at time’.

‘We got over, in a sense, the fear [when] we eventually got on to dry land again. Then the fear came again because we were amongst all this explosion, I mean, the noise of them was tremendous. We’d never, although we’d done tremendous amount of live training in the UK we really didn’t experience the sort of noise the big guns that were firing... [W]e were having guns in front of us fired and...the battleships...were firing over our heads... [We] were really amazed that we were running and was still standing’.

Albert continued to serve with the No. 47 Royal Marine Commando in France and the low countries until the end of the war.

Downloads

Interview with Albert Potterton
Interview with Albert Potterton (211k)
To read the full transcript of Albert's interview please press the above link.

The Home Guard
The Home Guard (57k)
Transcript of video clip with Albert Potterton.

D-Day
D-Day (59k)
Transcript of video clip with Albert Potterton.

'The noise was tremendous'
'The noise was tremendous' (55k)
Transcript of video clip with Albert Potterton.

'A soldier fighting a soldier'
'A soldier fighting a soldier' (54k)
Transcript of video clip with Albert Potterton.

This page was added by Malin Lundin on 30/04/2012.
Comments about this page

Albert must have served with and known my father Paul Spencer who died  many years ago. I found it very moving to listen to his stories

By Robert Spencer
On 05/06/2015

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