Clipstone Navy veteran relives his experiences of D-Day on the 75th anniversary

"Some of the sights were horrible, but you couldn't let it ever get to you and you just had to carry on going. The beach was one big battleground"

Thursday, 6th June 2019, 4:53 pm
ARROMANCHES LES BAINS, FRANCE - JUNE 6: Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie of the Scots Royal artillery stands on a Mulberry harbour as he plays a replica set of Millin-Montgomery pipes at Mulberry harbour on the morning of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 2019 in Arromanches Les Bains, France. June 6th is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings which saw 156,000 troops from the allied countries including the United Kingdom and the United States join forces to launch an audacious attack on the beaches of Normandy, these assaults are credited with the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

These are the words Reginald Taylor, aged 93, a D-Day veteran from Clipstone who has relived his experiences on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion.

Today (June 6) marks 75 years to the day that allied forces arrived on French soil for the invasion which aimed to secure victory during the Second World War.

It took place on June 6, 1944, and saw of tens of thousands of troops from the United States, Britain, France and Canada landing on five stretches of the Normandy coastline - codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches - and lay the foundations for the Allied victory over Germany in the conflict.

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ARROMANCHES LES BAINS, FRANCE - JUNE 6: Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie of the Scots Royal artillery stands on a Mulberry harbour as he plays a replica set of Millin-Montgomery pipes at Mulberry harbour on the morning of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings on June 6, 2019 in Arromanches Les Bains, France. June 6th is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings which saw 156,000 troops from the allied countries including the United Kingdom and the United States join forces to launch an audacious attack on the beaches of Normandy, these assaults are credited with the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Reginald Taylor, a veteran of the Navy, was 17 when he joined the armed forces and was one of the minesweepers who sailed to the Normandy coast for the invasion on HMS Vigilant.

Speaking on the 75th anniversary, he has described some of the "horrible" near-misses during the battle, some which caused thousands of soldiers to lose their lives.

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"About half an hour later I turned back towards England and saw hundreds following us and we all joined up together. The sea was calm on the day.

British veteran John Prior looks at the graves of fallen British soldiers during a Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Bayeux, Normandy, northwestern France, on June 6, 2019 as part of D-Day commemorations marking the 75th anniversary of the World War II Allied landings in Normandy. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

"The ships came and the aircraft started to arrive with the parachute regiments, we had come from a Russian convoy beforehand.

"To be honest I don't know which was the most scary, being at D-Day or being on the Russian convoys.

"But this was the calm before the storm."

Once the battle with German forces had begun, Reginald and his fellow sailors were involved in a conflict in the sea while foot soldiers embarked on ground war.

A D-Day commemoration ceremony.

"It was really noisy, I couldn't stand it because every ship that could fire would fire", he said.

"The Americans were firing over the hill so their soldiers could climb up, but they suffered because there were German forces on the other side. People say the Germans didn't know we were coming, but I think they did.

"We were really lucky because there were planes flying above and around us, it was like one big battleground.

"We had a few near misses during the battle, such as when the Japanese caught up with our destroyers but we managed to sink one and take down a merchant's ship.

"What I saw on the beaches was terrible, but you really couldn't let it get to you on the day because the fight was so intense.

"I was a nervous wreck when I came out of the Navy, I think a lot of us were, because it took some getting over.

"But in them days it was either get on with it and get better or hard luck."

For his service in the conflict, Reginald has received medals and honours and is awaiting further recognition from the French government for his service.

He also keeps safe his letter from General Eisenhower, who informed soldiers, sailors and pilots about the plan for D-Day and thanked them for their dedication.

He was unable to attend the D-Day commemoration events in France and has never been back to the Normandy coast, however he says the memory of the invasion will last forever.