Surviving D-Day veterans reveal incredible stories in their own words

D-DAY veterans have shared their astonishing stories of heroism and sacrifice on the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France today.

The last fighting soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 have told their tales of bravery on what may prove to be the last major anniversary attended by veterans of Operation Overlord.

Ron Tungatt knew he had a crucial role in the engine room of landing vessel 419 in 1944.

He needed to keep the engines running so the troops and military hardware on board could be landed quickly and safely on Sword Beach.

It’s what he’d trained for and he was ready. But, he admits, he was terrified.

Today he said: "My last thought before I went to sleep was ‘will I see daylight again?’ I prayed hard.

"I feel quite proud, I suppose.

"When you got to shore, the thought was always there that you could hit a land mine, or get bombed or shelled.

"But we got through it. And I think ours was a lucky ship.

"We went to the heart of the action and came through with barely a scratch."


Ernest Green, 93, and Robert Barnett, 93, were both on HMS Redpole when it sailed to Juno Beach on June 6 1944.

They spent three years together on the ship before returning home in 1946 — living just 19 miles apart in the county of Dorset.

On Wednesday, the men were reunited for the first time in more than 70 years at the national commemorative event.

Both men became emotional describing their starkest memory of D-Day — having to watch on as they saw Canadian troops killed in the water before them.

They were both manning guns on the ship, protecting the landing craft from air and sea attacks.

Mr Green, his voice cracking, said: "To see the chaps who were dead in the water.

"I'm sorry, I get emotional when I think of it."

Mr Barnett nodded as he continued: "We couldn't do anything."


As a 21-year-old, Pixie Jenkins, who was in Women's Royal Naval Service, helped drive troops and equipment to Newhaven Docks in East Sussex in the the build-up to D-Day and throughout the Normandy landings.

Now 100 years old, Pixie today said: "I think the men that went over were wonderful and I hope the younger people today realise how fortunate they are to have people like that.

"I think so many youngsters today have forgotten about the men.

"They look at them and think 'they're old men now' — to them they're just old men.

"And they're not, they are wonderful, wonderful men that went over.


Sid Barnes, 93, from Norfolk, served in the Royal Army Service Corps and landed on beach by Arromanches on June 6.

He returns every year to the town and attends commemoration events.

Mr Barnes said: "People are coming up to us to say thank you. But I think 'thank you for what?'
"We just did what we knew we must do. It is nice to know we are valued though.

"It's nice to take part to be here but it's very difficult as you remember the others who died."

Jimmy Ockendon, 97, wept as he remembered those who lost their lives on D-Day during an emotional memorial service in Portsmouth.

Mr Ockendon said: "It was very emotional, the main person I was thinking of was my uncle who went on the Hood, his wife had died just beforehand and he left two young children and my father and mother adopted them.

"I was also thinking of my father."

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