Swapping Helmets For Berets: Veteran Recalls Royal Marines D-Day Mission

George Simms is one of only two surviving members of 41 Royal Marines Commando unit, and now lives at Broughton House, a home for veterans in Manchester.

The 95-year-old has told Forces News of his memories of landing on 'Queen White' Beach as part of the D-Day invasion 75 years ago.

At the time of the Second World War, Mr Simms wanted to join the Navy, but was told he would have to join the Royal Marines instead.

George wearing his green beret.
George Simms wearing his green beret.

Due to wet and windy conditions, their Normandy mission was postponed.

Mr Simms said: "We just got on with it. We had a glass of whisky, wine and that and it was lovely."

"We weren’t brave, we were just gemmed up for it and ready for it."

"But we didn’t think it was going to be as much ammunition thrown at us as there was."

As they were getting on the boats to do the main landing, they were told take off their helmets and put berets on. The theory was it would frighten the Germans.

"How can a green beret frighten the Germans?", Mr Simms said.

"We landed in green berets and half of us got head wounds, because they had machine guns."

Royal Marine Commandos going ashore as part of D-Day (Picture: PA).
Royal Marine Commandos going ashore as part of D-Day (Picture: PA).

41 Royal Marines Commandos found themselves the targets of consistent bombing from low-flying aircraft.

"[Lost] all my friends.

"They nearly all got killed.

"I think about them all the time. I really do.

"I spend many a night never going to sleep for worrying about them.

"I still spend many a night never closing my eyes."

George says the thing he is proudest of is being a Royal Marine.

"I got wounded twice and I don’t care, I enjoyed it."

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