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‘Everything you read about D-Day is a load of rubbish, I was there’

In World
June 04, 2024

A D-Day veteran has described the books written about the Normandy Landings as “rubbish”, and said he has never forgotten the horrors of war.

George Chandler, 99, served on board a British motor torpedo boat as part of a flotilla that provided an escort for the US army assault on Omaha and Utah beaches in June 1944.

Mr Chandler, whose flotilla returned to Newhaven in East Sussex each night for refuelling and rearming before returning across the Channel for about three months straight during the conflict, was critical of D-Day accounts he has read over the years.

He said: “Let me assure you, what you read in those silly books that have been written about D-Day are absolute c—, it’s a load of old rubbish.

“I was there, how can I forget it? It’s a very sad memory because I watched young American rangers not shot, slaughtered.

“And they were young. I was 19 at the time, these kids were younger than me when I was there and I saw them shot.”

Mr Chandler was among 40 veterans who gathered at Southwick House in Hampshire on Monday – the place where General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, established his headquarters for the invasion.

Chosen because of its proximity to Portsmouth and to the underground naval command headquarters dug into the cliffs, Southwick House had been requisitioned for the Royal Navy’s navigation school earlier in the war.

Monday’s event was thought to be the largest meeting of surviving D-Day veterans this year, as some are not well enough to make the journey to Normandy for the 80th anniversary.

While many of the veterans will travel to Normandy on Tuesday morning, others will remain in the UK to attend the national commemorative event in Portsmouth on Wednesday.

Marie Scott, who worked on the switchboard in the tunnels under Fort Southwick in Portsmouth

Marie Scott, who worked on the switchboard in the tunnels under Fort Southwick in Portsmouth – Jonathan Brady/PA

Other veterans at the gathering on Monday included Marie Scott, now 97, who was 17 when she served with the Women’s Royal Naval Service at Fort Southwick as a “switchboard operator”, using a machine connected to the landing forces in France.

Her job was to pass messages from the troops on the beaches to the leaders of Operation Overlord, Gen Eisenhower and Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

Ms Scott – who was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest order of merit, in recognition of her contribution to the liberation of the country – described how she could hear the reality of the battle taking place.

She said: “I was a little bemused when I first heard it, then I thought to myself, ‘Oh, you know, this is war’.

“You could hear everything, machine gun fire, cannon fire, bombs dropping, men shouting, the general chaos.”

The majority of those who attended the gathering at Southwick House travelled courtesy of the Royal British Legion, the Spirit of Normandy Trust and the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans.

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