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D - Day B Squadron Tpr. Leslie Soroke

Trooper Leslie W Soroke

Lieutenant ‘Freddy’ Seaman’s tank was first off landing craft LCT 311. They were having some trouble and taking on water. Trooper Soroke was the driver of the second vehicle commanded by Corporal Albert J. Cybulski, Trooper Lawrence F. Sutton was the gunner, Trooper John D. Dumont (believed to be a relative of Gabriel Dumont a prominent Metis leader in the late 1800s) was the loader/operator, and Trooper George H.L. Underhill was the co-driver. As his tank entered the water it was hit by a large swell but managed to level out. The crew commander Corporal Cybulski was on deck looking for the rest of the Squadron to line up for the run in to shore, but decided to head in as fast as they could as they were taking on a lot of water, and two of the five engines had cut out already. Given the sea state, getting ashore on only three engines was going to be difficult. Trooper Soroke used the gyro compass which had been calibrated in England to guide his tank to shore. When they hit the beach, they found that they were exactly where they were supposed to land, which, given the conditions that morning was quite remarkable.

The 88mm bunker on NAN GREEN received a great deal of attention and was quickly dispatched. No 1st Hussars tanks were lost to gunfire on the beach

As they dropped their canvas screen they saw their primary target, an 88 mm gun in a concrete bunker, just off to their right. They fired several rounds into the bunker and then began to argue whether they had actually hit it or not. However, as there was no return fire from the bunker but plenty of other “Fireballs” flying in their direction they decided to move on up the beach engaging other targets as they came into view. Trooper Soroke, unable to see well enough to avoid the many beach obstacles and the mines that they knew were big enough to sink an LCT, opened his hatch and proceeded to drive heads up. With only three operating engines it was very difficult to maneuver and it took several tries for them to get off the beach.

The obstacles on the beach were many, varied, and deadly

Eventually they returned to the beach to see if they could dry out the other two engines and get them running. Upon inspecting the engines, it was found that two coils were burned out and Trooper Soroke set out along the beach on a scavenging mission, eventually coming up with the necessary parts to repair their vehicle. By noon the vehicle was back in running order, and they set off to find the rest of the Squadron. Later that afternoon Trooper Soroke witnessed the destruction of five B squadron tanks in the space of only a few minutes outside of Fontaine Henry and that night his vehicle was one of only four B squadron tanks to survive D-Day. A few days later Trooper Soroke would survive another horrific battle, Le Mesnil Patry, where once again B Squadron was reduced to just 4 vehicles. But that is another story.

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