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70 years ago today

“June 5 1944: The call has come at last. We are on our way to the greatest invasion ever, feeling very cool and collected. I pray to be given the strength to go through this like a man and not loose my nerve, and hope that I may return to my little family who are so dear to me.” – John Emrys Williams

John Emrys Williams

This is how my Taid (Welsh for grandfather) began his diary entry  on that dawn of the day of the Normandy Landing in WWII.

He was a signalman on board HMS Diadem and he kept a diary about his life on the ship which I’ve published and maintained online since 2001 at

Although Welsh was his first language, he kept the diary in English. This may be because he was taught to write in English rather than Welsh at school; or it may be that keeping notes in languages other than English during the War wasn’t allowed. I wish I’d asked him while he was still alive.

What’s been both surprising and heartwarming has been hearing from the children and grandchildren of others who worked on this ship. You can see links to their stories on the right hand side of the page.

Taid received the Russian Convoys medal from the Russian Embassy on August 14 1992. He passed away April 7 1994. He was 86 years old.




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