Miller: What was your own personal reaction when the Mulberry
concept was explained to you? How did you react yourself?
Mais: That's a long time ago. I think my primary reaction was
"Thank God I got in on the party." Secondly, really as far as I
was concerned, my job was to put the markers in, and to do the
inshore survey, for which we were allocated about the only small
cross that was still available and hadn't been requisitioned
already. Javelin, which was a narrow dotted motorboat which
should have never been allowed outside the Hammel River, yet it
was sailed to Normandy. I think my reaction was "Thank God I've
got in on it," and this seems to me to be a really job worth
doing. But I didn't know I was going to be told to build it. I
was told to do the survey. My job was to do the survey, get the
markers in. The _______, they didn't get the markers in. And
that was done, but it wasn't until we'd been there about four or
five days, and the piers just weren't getting built. But the
units were arriving, but they were arriving in all sorts of
orders, not in accordance with the plan, and it had been so driven
into these chaps that they must do it exactly as the plan, nothing
was happening. There were an awful lot of units bobbing up and
down their anchors, but the piers weren't getting done. The
inshore landing ramps were in position, and bigger than a _______
got hold of me, I supposed it was about D+4 or 5, day before the
storm. And said, "Take over and build the bloody thing."
Miller: Right. OK, before we get to that, let me ask you, when
did you actually go across. What were the circumstances of your
sort of crossing the Channel?
Miller: In this -- what was it called, this . . .?
Mais: I went in on an auxiliary naval boat with a little small
survey party, and then when we got there, Javelin, that was the
survey launch for the echo sounders on the bows, came alongside
and I got aboard it.
Miller: Right. Javelin was what again?
Mais: Javelin was obviously a well-bridged enthusiast for a ____
motorboat. It was only about fifteen feet long, very slender,
rode like a pig. Very fast, it had about eighteen knots. And it
hadn't been helped by putting the two echo sounders like two great
trumpets right forward on the bows. That really upset what little
buoyancy it really had. And I think it was -- the crew _____ that
sailed it over -- across what, eighteen miles of water, all ought
to have gotten a medal ______________.
Miller: The _____, right?
Miller: So you went over on a naval auxiliary.
Mais: I went over on a naval auxiliary.
Miller: Was that one of the ships taking across the invasion
force, or was that a sort of subsidiary ship?
Mais: It was a naval supply vessel. I had a feeling that we were
the only small _______ party, we were the only troops on board.
I can't really remember now. It wasn't a landing craft.
Miller: Right. Can you remember how you felt when you set off
across the Channel?
Mais: Oh, terrific. I'd been ____________. Oh yes, spirits were
Miller: And when you were crossing, did you see the rest of the
Mais: Yes, yes, it was a most impressive thing. It was being
anchored off ports, as far as the eye could see, ships, landing
craft. But you didn't notice an awful lot going over. You saw
the odd chap on the _________, not only the starboard side, and a
few _______. There was a got _____ of shipping. Landing craft
had gone in, of course, about six hours ahead of us. The assault
force. And I landed over the beaches just near __________. And
the beaches still had bodies lying on them, and equal amount
floating about in the water.
Miller: Right. Can you remember the time that you transferred
from the auxiliary vessel to the Javelin, approximately?
Mais: I would have thought about 11:00, 12:00 in the morning.
Miller: Of June 6. Right. And the force happens to have boarded
over, and your party comprised what?
Mais: Don't think that's detail I can remember.
Mais: There were four or five crew -- four -- and I had my
driver, my ________. . . driver, ______ and John. But John didn't
_________ to the survey launch. As far as I know, it was only
myself and I forget who -- Ronny Carn didn't come ashore with me.
Came ashore just afterwards. I'm afraid I can't remember.
Miller: No, OK. Immediately after you transferred, what was your
first duty? What did you do then?
Mais: First duty was to get the inshore marker, it was a gray
pole, in position in the back of the beach for the ______ of the
pier, and then a second marker for the tank . . .
Miller: Now how long before you left had you been given these
Mais: About 24 hours before.
Miller: OK. Was that the first time you realized where the
invasion was going in?
Mais: I'm not sure I even realized then. I have a feeling the
first intonation of where it was going to be was once we were on
Miller: Right. But you'd been clear instructions of where these
markers had to be.
Miller: OK. And is that the first thing you did as soon as you
got on the Javelin?
Mais: As soon as we went in, we got in the makers, and then we
made our way and we had to make our way. We put one marker in,
which was the calm side of Mulberry, or Arromanches, and then we
had to make our way round as soon as we could into Arromanches
itself and put down the marker for the tank landing pier and the
other ____ pier.
Miller: OK. How did you actually fix the markers?
Mais: Well, they were just driven in, with spiked in, and they
were ______ black and white stripes. It was a perfectly ordinary problem.
Miller: Were these things obviously driven into the beach, were
they, or . . .?
Mais: Well, in the course -- in the back of the beach.
Miller: Yeah. OK.
Mais: The beach went up facing Arromanches on the left marker,
the left side _____ pier. The beach rose quite steeply and we put
the marker up on the ____ on the shore just inside, just off the
Miller: Was the beach still under fire at this point?
Mais: Well, we were still under mortar fire. Also under small
arms. It was under small arms fire when we landed, and it was
still under mortar fire when we put the marker in.