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Cpl. Jack “Scotty” Kay and Cpl. Helgin Stephen Runolfson

Corporal Kay was the Troop Corporal of #4 troop. His was the 5th DD to launch from LCT 390 in the centre of A-Squadron, and was among the first to land. He was a well-liked easy-going Scotsman simply known as "Scotty" to his crew, who, like most tank crews were almost family. Cpl. Runolfson was his driver, the other members of the crew were Troopers Earl Sinclair, Jack Jackson, and John Forbes. Moving to the forming up point for their convoy on June 5th, Cpl. Runolfson remembers the crew was feeling a little anxious knowing that they were finally going in, and being a little awe struck when all they could see around them was a mass of ships of every description.

Cpl. Jack "Scotty" Kay Cpl. Stephen Runolfson

The trip over to France was very rough and launch conditions that morning, were much worse than anything that he had practised for. Receiving the order to launch, Runolfson, concerned about collapsing the delicate screen, shifted into low gear and crept forward and “Snuck” into the sea. Once in the water and under way things seemed to improve and the run into shore was uneventful. Cpl. Kay was in the turret observing the beach through his periscope. He kept up a running description of the massive bombardment and the crew were feeling quite confident that the enemy defences were being more or less knocked out, before they landed. One of the more impressive sites was when an LCT(Rocket) cut loose with 1000 rockets and the entire beach to their front was lit up by explosions. Unfortunately, the bombardment was more show than reality and as they got closer to shore they could see that the enemy defences were virtually intact.

As their tank touched down Cpl. Kay ordered the front of the screen deflated and crew “Action”, and that was the end of their battle. Before they could fire a single shot, a giant wave broke over the rear of the screen and completely flooded the vehicle. Cpl. Runolfson in water up to his head, inserted the mouthpiece of his escape apparatus and attempted to exit up through his hatch, only to be driven back inside by machine gun bullets hitting the turret just above him. Moments later he watched through his periscope as the machine gunners switched their attention to the infantry on the beach, and he made his move again. Making his way to the rear deck he found Cpl. Kay had been wounded. When it came time to swim for it, Runolfson grabbed Cpl. Kay by the shoulder and began to drag him ashore. The German machine gun opened up on the crew a second time and Runolfson watched in horror as Cpl. Kay was hit again and killed. He died in his driver’s arms. Troopers Sinclair and Jackson also did not make it, and while attempting to avoid the enemy fire, Trooper Forbes crashed against one of the enemy beach obstacles and was paralyzed.

Trooper Earl Stanley Sinclair Trooper Jack Jackson

Cpl. Runolfson dragged his friend Kay ashore and then went back into the water to pull several other wounded men ashore. He spent some time assisting with the wounded before picking up a German rifle and moving inland with the infantry. He was able to rejoin the Regiment later that day. For his action that day Cpl. Runolfson was awarded the Military Medal.

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