“Do you know what a Degausser is?” Bright eyes sparkling, as 96 year old Jenny Umpherson smiled and laughed. “Not many people know that. I did lots of jobs. I’m a signaller.” Jenny was in the Bronte Legion after the D-Day Parade on Sunday 2nd June. Jenny wore her Naval Blazer and cap, laughed and shared greetings in her native Welsh. Jenny was in the Womens Royal Naval Service (WRENS) and remembered the build up to D-Day. As a trained Signaller she was posted to the Docks and iron piers for assisting with the loading of the Landing Craft. Standing on the concrete pier above the moored Landing Craft, Jenny used flags to signal as vehicles and Tanks reversed into the flat bottomed craft. Jenny was there for three days as the ships loaded then pulled away to await the invasion. Jenny served in Dover as a Degaussing recorder from 1943 to 1945 and it was her signals qualification that provided Jenny with a part in history as she organised the landing craft and tanks for Operation Neptune, the Naval plan for D-Day.
Dover in September 1943, when Jenny first arrived, was being bombed and shelled on a daily basis. Dover is barely 22 miles from the Coast of France. The enemy guns at Cappe Griene in France fired 1,000 shells a week and their daily firing soon gave their favourite part of Port Dover the nickname of “Hell Fire Corner”.
Jenny married a RCAF Pilot Earl William Umpherson in July 1945, left the Navy and moved to Canada. Jenny raised a family of 3 boys and 3 girls in Perth Ontario. Jenny currently lives in the NorthRidge Long Term Care home in Oakville.