Invasion of Normandy – a D-Day veteran receives an award from the French government

Last year, the French government contacted the British Ministry of Defence to inform them that they wanted to recognize the brave surviving WWII veterans for the heroism displayed by them on D-Day – the invasion of Normandy.

A British WWII veteran, Mr Ted Turner, will receive his award of recognition from Capt. François Jean. The consul honoraire of France will present the Legion of Honour award on behalf of the President, François Hollande.

Mr Turner expressed his gratitude, and said that he will always remember his comrades who could not make it through D-Day. Mr Turner believes that he was extremely lucky, and that the just cause they were fighting for gave them courage to make the landing on Juno Beach, which has become a symbol of courage and bravery all over the world.

Born and brought up in Portsmouth, Mr Turner decided to join the RAF at the age of 17. His application was not successful, because he was too young at that time. He was accepted by the Royal Marines in the year 1943.

In June of 1944, Mr Turner and three of his comrades sailed towards Lee-on-Solent and were joined by a Canadian ship. The ship was carrying troops and equipment along with some other war supplies.  On 5th June 1944, they joined the  allied forces in the invasion of Juno Beach.

Mr Turner says that he remembers the events before, during and after the invasion very vividly. He said, in the beginning when all the ships were heading towards the beach, the troops were quiet and focused, and there was a very eerie silence inside the landing craft. When they got closer to the beach the silence broke and German guns started showering them with never ending hails of bullets. Inside the craft, soldiers were still silent, not knowing what was going to happen after the doors opened. Mr. Turner said that he was not frightened or scared at all. He was young and thought of this as an adventure, without thinking about the possibility of being killed by German bullets. He recalls that when the doors of the crafts were opened,  all hell broke lose. Soldiers were dying here and there but those who dodged the first wall of fire made a successful landing, The Telegraph reports.

They rested on the beach overnight, after a fierce battle with German Army. Mr Turner says that in the night they saw German planes flying over them, and they were all firing at the planes. The group of Canadians he was with had lost a large number of their troops. Mr Turner helped them in digging a trench to bury the bodies of the dead soldiers.

The French government presented the award to Mr Turner on 23rd March.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE