Thursday 30 May 2024

D Day in the Goole and Howden area

On  Thursday June 6th 2024 there will be several events both nationally and locally to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D Day landings. 

My father, Doug Watson of Eastrington, had been at Dunkirk but in 1944 was in North Africa. But my mother's cousin, Gunner Jack Nurse, a village joiner with his father, was involved while serving in the Royal Artillery.

Invasion practice had been going on for some time. Alan Swires who lived at Sleights between Eastrington and Spaldington remembered

One day I was biking home from Spaldington school when I had to get off my bike and get into the hedge bottom as there was a squadron of Centurion tanks coming. Their tracks were wider than the road and they parked them all in Spaldington village with one track on the road and one on the footpath squashing it  out of sight. The army later were sent to repair the damage the tanks had done.

We had swarms of soldiers, trucks and tanks practising for the invasion of France. There were soldiers everywhere and trucks and tanks in the fields. In Hall field one soldier slept under his tank which sank in the night squashing him.

We had three officers sleeping in the front room in sleeping bags. Their batman used to cook their breakfast in the coalhouse and bring it in at 6 o’ clock in the morning. There were soldiers sleeping in the barn, others sleeping outside and they had campfires in the yard.

Mum and dad had to put up signs where their potato and mangold clamps were so that the army did not over run them and squash them. My dad went down to the Royal Oak and said they were having to serve beer to the soldiers in jam jars as there were so many of them.

We did not go to school while the army was there as it was not safe to go on the roads. We went back to school when they had all gone. They were doing tank training on the Wolds where they had requisitioned 2000 acres and the army used to take fresh soldiers up there every day to the ‘front line’.

In Goole in preparation for D Day, there were Americans, some of whom were billeted in Christ Church with their cook house in the church grounds in Victoria Street, next to Beecrofts’ corner shop. Other preparations for D Day involved throwing a bridge over the river near Hook.

Michael Williams remembers how ‘we lived in what was then a new semi-detached house in Western Road. Life there became quite difficult during the war due to the road being used for storing large wooden crates containing military vehicles which were shipped in ‘kit’ form by Lep transport. The road was a security area with barriers and sentries at each end and we needed a pass to get to the house.

My father was away in the army from early 1940 until late 1945, serving in the Western desert with Montgomery. I would often go for long walks with my grandfather, Allan Wale, from Western Road to Airmyn and to Westfield Banks. I remember one day seeing a Bailey Bridge over the Ouse, quite close to the old isolation hospital. There were Sherman and Churchill tanks testing the pontoon bridge. My grandfather explained to the soldiers that my father was at that time a tank commander and so I was given a pretty scary ride over the bridge in a Churchill tank.’

Goole ships, including the Yokefleet were involved in the actual landings

This picture taken in June 1944 shows the Yokefleet discharging cargo near Corseulles sur Mer off the Juno landing beach.

It is not possible to mention all the local men who were involved and all those who lost their lives. So I include here some extracts from newspaper reports and some names mentioned in Mike Marsh's Goole at War volume 3. I hope this will give an idea of how everyone from our the local towns and villages was waiting for news in 1944.

From the news

Able Seaman Ernest Johnson of Howdendyke was one of first casualties, wounded on his leg while on a minesweeper. 

Charlie Dorsey and Edgar Bradshaw of Bubwith and signalman John Clayton of Staddlethorpe were early arrivals on  the beaches

Lance Corporal Cyril Arthur Goddard of Rawcliffe was killed on June 28th. He was the adopted son of Samuel and Florence Goddard, of Rawcliffe,  and  husband of Lorna Goddard, of Rawcliffe.  He was serving with the East Yorkshires and was 28 when he was killed. 

Cpl Harry Willingham of Hailgate  was killed 12th June six days after D day while serving with the Seaforth Highlanders. He was 26 and is buried in the Ranville war cemetery. He left a widow Elsie [nee Drury].

Jim Jackson originally of Howden but living aged 83 in 2005 in Holme on Spalding Moor  was serving with the Royal Engineers Inland Water Transport Co remembered

We landed at Luc sur Mer just after 6am. There was lot of stuff flying about shells and bullets  when we got onto the beach  so we ducked down for shelter behind some drums which we then realised were filled with petrol.  Because we'd been drafted in at the last minute we had little idea where we were until I saw a map in the Daily Mirror a few days later

1944 5th July Hull Daily Mail

WOUNDED IN NORMANDY Pte Rowland Mounsor, of Newport Road, North Cave, wounded at Normandy,  is now in hospital in England suffering from machine-gun and rifle wounds in the legs and arms. He is 19 years age. In his opinion many the German prisoners taken in Normandy are glad to out of it. 

Pte. Harold Shipley, aged 28, Duckels Buildings, Old Goole is now in hospital in Scotland, and is reported to be making good progress after an operation. His father, Mr Herbert Shipley, aged 63 is also taking part in the invasion. He is in the Merchant Navy, in which he has served for 35 years and he has been at least once to Normandy in these invasion operations. Pte. Shipley landed in France with the first wave on D-Day. He is a native of Goole, and as a boy attended the Old Goole Council School. He then worked for seven years on a farm at Swinefleet, and before joining the Forces four years ago, he was an engine driver for the River Ouse Catchment Board. 

July 11th 1944 Hull Daily Mail

Goole Officer Wounded 

Lt. Bruce Thompson, aged 20, youngest son of Mrs Thompson and the late Mr L. Thompson, Westbourne Grove, Goole, is in hospital in Lancashire with a bullet wound in his left thigh received while serving in Normandy. 

Lt. Thompson joined the Royal Armoured Corps about two years ago. trained at Sandhurst, and passd out as an officer, but later transferred to an infantry regiment. A native of Goole, he attended the Alexandra-st. school and the Grammar School, and at the time of joining the forces he was on the clerical staff of the County Welfare Institution at Goole. He has two brothers in the army, Lt. Allen Thompson, who is serving wth a heavy anti-aircraft unit in Italy, and Cpl. Douglas Thompson, who is with the R.A.M.C. in France

July 11th 1944

KILLED IN ACTION  Mrs Whitehead. of Richard Cooper St. Goole has received information that her husband Pte. Ernest Whitehead, aged 24 of the R.A.M.C.. has been killed in action in Normandy. Pte. Whitehead joined the Forces in March 1940 and went abroad in May1942. serving in North Africa and Sicily. He returned to this country in November last. As a boy he attended the Old Goole council school, and at the time of being called up he was employed by a Goole firm of fertiliser manufacturers. 

Aug 1944 Hull Daily Mail

Goole Corporal Killed in Action. Lce Cpl Arthur E. Mileham, aged 19, third son of Mr Mileham and the late Mrs Mileham, of Cheviot-ave., Goole, has been killed in Normandy. Lce Cpl. Mileham joined the Army in June, 1943. and went to France a few days after D-Day. Before being called up, he was a member of the Goole civil defence Messenger service. His eldest brother Staff Sgt. Frederick G. Mileham, who has lived in America for 17 years, is serving in France with the American Forces, and his father is a member of the civil defence ambulance service. 

Aug 10th 1944 Hull Daily Mail

Mrs Snarr, of Morley St. Goole has learned that her husband, Pte Newton Snarr, aged 30 has been killed in action. Pte Snarr had been in the Regular Army for 12 years, and had served in India, the Sudan. Palestine and Crete. He returned to this country in May, 1943, and was among the first troops to land in Normandy. 

[He had married Ada Forbes in Goole in 1943]

Sept 1944

Goole Soldiers Killed in Action

 L.-Cpl. Walter Salmon, aged 30, youngest son of Mrs Salmon and the late Mr W. Salmon, of Jackson St Goole, is reported to have died of wounds in France. L. Cpl. Salmon, who joined the Forces as a volunteer in May, 1940, went to Normandy a few weeks ago. As a boy he attended the Goole Boothferry Rd school, and at the time of joining up was employed in the grocery business at Bridlington, where his wife resides. 

Pte. Albert Roland Sherwood, aged 22, youngest son of Mrs Sherwood and the late Mr A. Sherwood, of Westfield ave, Goole. has been killed in action in France. Pte. Sherwood joined the Army in April, 1942. He attended the Goole Alexandra-st. school, after which he was employed by a Goole firm of house furnishers. His wife  is in the A.T.S. 

November 1944


 Well known in Humber shipping circles, Mr Frank Atkinson, of Goole, assistant director of the Sea Transport Division of the Ministry of War Transport, has been awarded the OBE. for his services in the planning of the landings in Normandy. Mr Atkinson, who is the only son of Mr and Mrs A. W. Atkinson, of Ingleside, Airmyn-rd,  Goole. and is 43 years of age. took up his present position in London in August, 1941. He is a director of the Ouse Steamship Co., Ltd., of Goole, and a partner in the firm of E. P. Atkinson and Sons, steamship managers, which was founded by his grandfather. For some years he has been secretary of the Goole Chamber Commerce and Shipping; was Ministry representative Goole for the Hull Coasting and Short Sea Shipping Control Committee; a member of the Goole Port Emergency Committee; and honorary secretary of the British Coasting and Near Trades Shipowners' Association. He is also a member of Goole Rotary Club and was formerly in the Royal Observer Corps at Goole. 

Although not entirely about Normandy I have left this extract from the Hull Daily Mail 1960 complete as I think it is interesting.

 Arthur Thompson of 18 Lansdowne-Rd  comes from a seafaring family and is one of five brothers to make a career in shipping. One of his brothers is Goole’s harbour master, another is master of a passenger ship and another master of a tanker. The fourth brother is chief steward on board the mv Kirkham Abbey which trades between Goole and Copenhagen. Their father and grandfathers went to sea for a living.

Capt Thompson was born in Goole in 1894 and was educated at Boothferry Rd School. He became an errand boy at a local chemist’s shop when he was 13 and began his seafaring career after taking a medicine chest aboard the ss Hessle 

The mate asked he wanted a job and a would-be chemist became a 15-year-old able seaman.  In 1910 Capt Thompson joined the ss Argus as steward and two years later joined the old ss Dearne. Shortly before World War One began he left the Dearne which was interned four ears by Germans at Hamburg on its next voyage

When war broke out in 1914 Capt Thompson joined the minesweeping trawler section of the Royal Navy. He enrolled as a deckhand but became skipper before being demobilised. He gained his master’s certificate in 1918 and a year later rejoined the Merchant Navy as second mate on the ss Yokefleet which sailed regularly from Goole. 

He was master of the ss Yokefleet when it was blown up by a mine off Harwich in 1942. All of the crew escaped without injury in the starboard life-boat and were picked up within an hour.  The  bows of the ship were protruding out of the waves the following day and Capt Thompson went out to the wreck with a salvage crew and there was a roll-call of the rescued seamen when voices were heard coming from inside the partly submerged ship. Eventually the voices were traced to a battery wireless set which had survived the mine  and was still operating It had been left switched on when the crew abandoned ship

Capt Thompson spent the remainder of his career  working for the sea transport division of the Ministry of Shipping and was in charge of four concrete harbour units towed from Goole  for use in the Normandy landings 

In 1945 he returned to Goole as Assistant Dock Master has worked ashore since. He is a member of Trinity House at Hull. Capt Thompson is married and has a son and daughter. His son was in the Merchant Navy during World War II and is now engineer charge of a clothing factory in Goole. 

I intend to visit Howden Minster next Thursday where there will be a service and other displays about D Day. Do add comments either on the blog or on one of the local facebook pages to which this will be linked if you can add further names or information.


  1. Thanks for the information. Susan Butler ( Watson ) was my history teacher at school

  2. thank you for such informative info.

  3. My grandad was injured badly in the war and honourably discharged on 5th July,1919 (he lived in Yokefleet)...What an interesting read....

  4. Great read thank you .