D-Day

D-Day Veterans Recall 'Watching All The Fireworks' During Normandy Landings

The invasion established a crucial second front in liberating Europe from the Nazis and led to victory for the allies.

D-Day veterans have shared an insight into what it was really like to serve on the frontline during the Normandy landings.

The invasion established a crucial second front in liberating Europe from the Nazis and led to victory for the allied forces on 6 June 1944.

At the time, the youngest of men would have been around 16 years old, now they are in their 90s.

In a special documentary to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Forces TV met with nine Normandy landings veterans, including Elsie Plummer who was one of the few women to cross the channel in June 1944.

"I can remember it just as if it was yesterday," she said.

Bill Glen, who served in the Highland Light Infantry Regiment, recalled the fear he felt when he was called to serve in the Normandy landings, saying:

"I lied in bed and physically cried because I didn't know what was going to happen to me."

Elsie Plummer, one of the few women to travel across the channel, described the moment she was called upon: "The officer of the unit sent for me, he said: 'We're very short of men so escort some of these tanks over the channel into Normandy and come back again'."

She was serving as a Sergeant at the time, working on Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

She was given just an hour's notice before she had to cross the channel.

Elsie Plummer My D-Day
Elsie Plummer said her journey "was long and frightening" across the channel during the landings.

Alfred Smith was a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps, he said he was called back to a camp in Essex and put into a barracks which he wasn't allowed to leave.

"We were put in a barracks with all wired fencing around, you were not allowed out of camp, you were not allowed to speak to any civilians.

"Nobody told us why."

Nigel Cresswell was only around 19-years-old when he left for Normandy.

"The skipper called the whole crew together and he said: 'The invasion is imminent, you're now confined to the boat and the jetty'. 

"We were each given a postcard to say that you were well and you will write when circumstances permit it."

D-Day rare archive footage Credit US National Archive
The invasion established a crucial second front in liberating Europe from the Nazis and lead to victory for the allied forces on 6 June 1944 (Picture: US National Archive)

For many, they were unaware of what they were going into - it was an invasion that was kept almost secret until the last moment.

Now their stories are being told of how, despite the odds, they made it back from Normandy alive, but for most - it was never going to be the same again.

For more on D-Day 75, click here.