Two D-Day heroes have shared their experiences on the anniversary of the famous Normandy landings.
Friends Jack Paige and Noah Stansmore, both 91, were only 19 when they and many thousands of other young men stormed the beaches of France on June 6, 1944.
Monday marked the 72nd anniversary of D-Day, which began the successful Allied liberation of France and then Western-Europe.
“We’re great mates after meeting at the Bognor bowls club and playing for many years,” said Mr Stansmore. “He’s 92 on September 15, and I’m 92 on August 16 so I’m just a little older.”
Mr Stansmore was part of the Royal Artillery 103 Heavy Anti-Aircraft Mobile Regiment and in March was awarded the Légion d’honneur, the highest honour for those who helped liberate France.
He said: “We went ashore in a Landing Ship Tank which went aground about 60/70 yards from the shore.
“The command came: ‘Everybody over the side in battle order’ and when my feet touched the floor I was up to my neck in water.
“I waded ashore, past bits of bodies. The Germans were firing shells, mortar, machine guns, you name it. You didn’t hang about.”
After the success of Operation Neptune, Mr Stansmore was part of the Allied push through France and Holland and he was in Belgium when hostilities ceased.
He joined the military police and remained in Germany for three years. After leaving the army in 1948, he served as a policeman for 31 years, as the village bobby in Middleton for and then as a coroner’s officer in Bognor Regis.
Like Mr Stansmore, Mr Paige’s father had served in the First World War and signed up again, and he signed up as soon as he could. “I was 19 when we went ashore on June 6, 1944, although officially I was 20 because I signed up aged 17 but said I was 18,” said Mr Paige, who was born in Bognor.
“I was part of the Royal Navy Beach Party and it was our job to set up a radio station on the beach to signal the ships to tell them where to bombard.
“We were one of two parties in case one didn’t make it, and of course some didn’t.”
Mr Paige had already survived a Messerschmitt attack while training in Dartmoor, and later when the Allies had pushed to Antwerp, a rocket attack which flattened the city. He spent four months in hospital there with diphtheria, before being sent to Brussels to help service combat vehicles.
He said: “I’ve been back to Normandy three times, I went to the big one for the 70th anniversary. “I always have mixed feelings about going back, it’s good in a way because they make a fuss. There’s not all that many of us left now.”
Mr Paige will also receive the Légion d’honneur.
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