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tv   D- Day 75  BBC News  June 9, 2019 8:30pm-9:01pm BST

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and england hang on to beat scotland 2—1 — in the women's world cup. now on bbc news. we follow three hundred veterans as they board a ship to return to the d—day beaches in normandy — in ‘d—day 75: return to the beaches‘. it's a duty to go back, it is, i feel it's a duty to go back. what these men did on d—day was the most important moment — just that one d—day — in the whole war. injune19li4, allied forces invaded nazi—occupied france, marking the beginning of the end of hitler's domination of europe. 75 years on, we follow a group of five veterans as they return to the beaches for what could be
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the last time. you never forget it. it's there. sometimes i lay in bed and go through it all. well, it's the last round—up, isn't it? i mean, i'm 95 — i've still got one or two marbles. they are here to pay tribute to everyone who never made it back. i hope it's going to bring it home to all the people exactly what happened — not what i did — but what we did.
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75 years ago these men set sail for the normandy beaches. i was wounded in sword beach, the first wave in. now, helped by the royal british legion, 300 of them are returning to normandy. he's supposed to be looking after me, but i'm looking after him. the veterans were part of one of the most ambitious military operations ever attempted — d—day. news archive: boarding ship for the battle of normandy, the army group carrying out the assault is made up of british, canadian and american forces. some of them have been back before — but never on a journey quite like this.
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this will be my third visit, but it'll be different to the other two, because the other two we were just a small group of normandy veterans — but nothing as big as this one. they're aged between 90 and 101. for some this will be the last time they are able to make the trip. did you go to caen? did i go to caen! we shelled the hell out of it. we took caen on the 8th ofjuly. it'll be an amazing adventure. i've kept in touch with quite a few of my comrades. there was always quite a comradeship, not that we ever talked about what was all the things we'd done. i don't think any of us ever did. great battle, that was. you were doing what you were told to do, and hoped
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everything would be ok. i'm looking forward to meeting other veterans, certainly. when these men boarded ships and landing craft injune 1944, many of them had no idea what lay ahead. i wanted to go in the air force, but everybody else did, so i was given the option of the army, navy, the royal marines, and my wife's mother thought i'd look better in navy blue, so we joined the navy. ended up as a sub—lieutenant, one gold stripe, pretending to be a gentleman as well as an officer. news archive: part of our invasion fleet, tank landing craft is here engaged, in divisional exercises in britain. what did you think of tanks, ken?
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horrible bleedin' things. i wouldn't say i suffered from claustrophobia, but i was always uncomfortable inside one. very rarely did we go down into it, and very rarely put the lid on the top. it was the war time and you were simply called up and that was it — off you went. you said, goodbye, mum and dad, and that's it. he's only a boy. well, all of them were, weren't they, and i was thinking i'm looking at you and that could be the last time i see you. we didn't know it was called d—day then, we were simply soldiers training to do a job later on. news archive: across the water come more landing craft, giving us further evidence from which we may guess the scale of operations. we were training every day, assault courses and what not. i was very fit in those days.
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i was called up and i went to training battalion. i always remember that horrible sergeant, putting, putting you through the mill and that. we were allowed one card to send home to our parents. when i was home on leave we had a little dog, and i said to my mother, we'd got a little dog, and i said if i mention the dog being better you'll know i'm about to go over — d—day. we had plenty to carry. i had two hand grenades in each trouser pocket, a magazine in my pouches. d—day was the largest naval, land and air operation ever attempted.
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how did you win all your medals? they landed on the beaches at the beginning of the biggest, most successful, most important triumphant operation in the war. the pushback of german forces in france and the final collapse of germany — of course with russian help in germany itself — what they did on d—day was the critical moment when they got the foothold on the beaches and they held that foothold. now 95, ernest has never been back to normandy. he's travelling there with his son. well, you can read a book about everything, but talking to the actual men who did — that's amazing. it's quite humbling in a way what they've been through, and they're all modest sort of people. they don't bang the drum about what they did, but they've all got the medals and that shows they were there, and ijust think it's, for me, i'll never have an another opportunity to understand
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first—hand what it was like. eric is here with his granddaughter, michelle. i suppose one of the few times we actually do talk to each other about this, we've never bothered much in the past. i don't think our families know much about it, to be honest. it's been an honour and a privilege. i couldn't have expected anything as big as this, and to be able to share the memories with my granddad and other veterans has been a real privilege. give them a wave, jack. all those generations who knew nothing about it, what'll they learn from all this? i'm overwhelmed, to tell you the truth. it makes you feel so proud and yet so humble at the same time. news archive: the allied invasion of europe from the west is launched — d—day the second front — and the second battle of france.
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i still have my service book, which says, embarked 4th ofjune, 1944. we went to southampton to get on the ship which had already been over with the canadians. i remember getting wet through as we were on deck, we were out in the solent in a long line of ships, and being scared maybe, apprehensive certainly. it was something like more than 14 hours at sea. they offered us some rum, but i wouldn't take any as i thought i should keep a clear head. there was a point where
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everybody had to make for. news archive: 4,000 ships and many smaller craft — the gathering of the mighty armada! and what were conditions like? do you want me to swear? they were horrendous. ooh, it were awful. i remember we had some small destroyers escorting us, and one minute they would be on top of a wave, and the next minute you couldn't see it. i was never so sea sick in all my life. the whole crew were. everyone was a bit quiet. there was a lot on their minds, isuppose. we were just wondering what was going to happen when we got over the other side.
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it was on the eight o'clock news that morning that some of our troops are in france, and i thought, right, jack, i know where you are now. if you'd just like to turn around sir, and hold on to one of the arms. 0h, get off, i could've run down there. one of the highlights of the voyage is a trip to portsmouth — where some of the men originally set off for the normandy beaches. a bit emotional. i'll have a cry when i get there. but looking forward to it nonetheless. my old sergeant major would have had this organised in no time at all. it's a huge spectacle, watched by millions. world leaders havejoined the queen to recall the events of d—day. but the focus is on the veterans themselves.
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i'm honoured to be here with so many other veterans. you never forget your comrades because you're all in it together. it is with humility and pleasure, on behalf of the entire country, indeed the whole free world, that i say to you all — thank you. it's an unforgettable day, and after the ceremony some veterans have the chance to tell their stories to visiting royalty. today has been great, lovely, beautiful. i shook the president's hand, and i saw the queen's head... so, a very good, very good day. the day ends with a ceremonial send off from the royal navy,
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they must think of a hell of a lot of us. more than we deserve, i think. to see my grandad emotional really got me. because he does deserve this, as does everyone else. but he will never get that bit. he will never know how special he is. i thought all the services were very good. well up to standard. burst out crying once or twice. it was really touching. it was the old wartime tunes and stories, what they were saying. it just kept going. getting a bit choked? needed a couple of tissues, but he was all right. couldn't help it. the ship steams south towards the beach is always in
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the vetera ns' thoughts. the memories of that june morning feel closer than ever. first light on the first sight of the french coasts, it must have been a quarter of a mile away in the half light. the first thing i saw, as we approached the coast was a dead sailor floating in the sea, which was a little bit of a... the first thing i saw, as we approached the coast was a dead sailor floating in the sea, which was a little bit of a... oh, dear. enemy shells drop among the landing craft close to the shore. the sea was full of life jackets and blood everywhere. it was quite a mess. because the canadians had been in front of us. it was the first wave that got shot up.
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the doors opened, and out in front there was the grinding of kiehl's on shingle and our troops spill ashore across the open stretch underenemy gunfire. i was one of the first out. they dropped the ramp. i was on the left—hand side. as soon as i hit the water i went down, nearly under. just managed to keep my head above. i kept walking, and it was a shell hole that i'd dropped into. i came up the other side and managed get into the dunes, because there were shots flying everywhere and shell is still coming over. when we got onto the beach, there were four or five dead canadians on the shore. the tide was lapping over their faces, and we couldn't do a when we got onto the beach, there were four or five dead canadians on the shore. the tide was lapping over their faces, and we couldn't do a darn thing about it. it was very sad story.
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there was a lot of fire, a lot of gunfire going on from whatever. big ones, rocket ships out in the bay, in the channel that were firing. i went like that, i don't know why, but i did, and a piece of shrapnel hit the tin hat, so it was a good job we ducked. the beach itself hasn't changed. that's the vision from up there going to le havre. as a young officer, eric commanded a landing craft at sword beach. the boots i wore on the day. kept me dry. very good boots. it makes you think of it. damn lucky i am able to come back
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here to do it, i suppose. not just because i survived at the time, but i've managed to get to 95, which i suppose isn't bad these days. there you are, mate. we did good, didn't we? bloody lucky. d—day was just the beginning. following the invasion, the troops pushed forward into occupied france. news archive: d-day plus one! a widening and deepening foothold on that deadly shore. strenuous efforts are made to penetrate inland before the full weight of resistance can be brought to bear. the germans occupied a hill. and they could see over a large area. it was up to us to try and take it from them. that was outside caen. well, we took it eventually
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but we lost 12,000 men. i looked up over this corn field when i saw this tiger tank 20 or 30 yards in front of me, and about 20 gerrys each side. and i grabbed the chap next to me because he was wounded all in the face, he couldn't see very well, and i dragged him along best way i could to slide down this railway embankment. and as i slid down there, that's where the ss were coming up. all in the face, he couldn't see very well, and i dragged him along best way i could to slide down this railway embankment. and as i slid down there, that's where the ss were coming up. they fired at us but missed us. the bullets hit the ground around my feet, about five bullets. that's where i was wounded
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and taken, you see. ken suffered a shrapnel wound in his leg, after being caught in the crossfire. he was captured by the ss, and received treatment as a prisoner of war. he gave me a spinal injection, which paralysed me from the waist down, and took the shrapnel out of my leg. and he placed it in my hand, which was all blood, and said, "there you are," he said, "souvenir for you," and i've still got it. not everyone was as lucky as ken. 0n d—day alone there were 10,000 casualties and over 4000 allied servicemen were killed. one of them served alongside eric.
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the final stop on the veterans' voyage is bayeux cemetery in northern france. this is really what it's all about. to come here and say thank you. seeing our boys, we had been talking to them minutes before, and they were cut down with machine—gun fire. it was pretty bad at that time. they would fall into the water, floating face down, and we couldn't get them out. we couldn't help them. and that is my most abiding memory. and i can't forget it. thank you for listening. applause
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# the lord's my shepherd # i shall not want... there's a lot of lads there that were unlucky, and i thank god that i was lucky. it's very moving when you see them, they're the people who gave their lives for it. i am very sad. i met some of the most brilliant people. and nobody is above anybody else.
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thank you, prime minister. thank you, good to see you. i landed at sword beach. the majority of these lads here most likely saved my life. that's why this place is so dear to me. and in this place of remembrance, thoughts turn to those who are not here. one of my best mates there was a gentleman by name of freddie gardiner.
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he was a great friend and also a great pianist. on our way from bayeux up to belgium, we went through caen. there was a canteen in a bombed out church building and in the corner there was a grand piano, with dust, bricks on top of it. so we cleaned this piano and freddie got on the piano and... i'll cry now... ..within ten minutes the place was heaving on hearing the piano. there was hundreds of soldiers saying, play so—and—so, play this, and freddie played it. it was a great... sorry to lose freddie.
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i was very lucky. i had some narrow escapes. i think about it every day. with an old friend. captain, captain. so young. you talk to younger people about events during the war and they look askance as if it didn't happen. i hope it will bring it home to all the people exactly what happened.
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not what i did, but what we did. i came home and i was thankful and i appreciate waking up every morning just to see the sky. and the lads who are the heroes are still out there. so grateful to be alive, so grateful to have survived. so sorry so many had to die. so many heroes and there they lie — normandy.
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hello again. well, i suppose there was a modest improvement with the weather today. we didn't have the persistent cloud and rain that we had on saturday, but instead, it was a day of sunny spells and heavy showers — those showers captured earlier in the day in cornwall. and perhaps the rain we should get used to — the weather over the next few days looking very wet for some of us. 0vernight tonight, many of the showers will tend to fade away. but later on we will see some cloud taken across the east anglia and south east england with outbreaks of rain developing here and turning progressively heavier. and that really is a key theme for what we've got coming over the next few days. a real clash of air masses takes place with a warmer, moist air coming up from north africa across the mediterranean and into central europe. in this collides with cooler, drier air working down from polar regions. it's this clash of air masses that will make a very potent weather
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front that'll bring some heavy rain. now the met office have got weather warnings already enforced for this — the amount of rain very variable on monday, but some places could see 60 mm of rain. that's anywhere from a months worth of rain, so there will likely be some localised surface water flooding from that very wet weather. and through the day, the rain will spread westwards into wales and western parts of england. further north into scotland and northern ireland, by and large a similar kind of day. today — sunshine with some slow—moving, heavy and thundery showers. temperatures for most between 14—16 celsius, so it's not especially warm forjune. now through monday night, that rain continues to pour down — notice the weather front not really moving very far and fast, hence those large rainfall totals really do build up. and we have more of the same to come on tuesday with scotland and northern ireland still missing out on the wet weather by and large — some bright and sunny spells across the north, but the rain could cause further significant issues across england and wales and will really begin to mount up.
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so through tuesday and on towards thursday, it's across these eastern areas of england that some areas can pick up as much as 80mm of rain — although again, the amount of rain you see in any one place will vary. wednesday sees more of that wet weather, and certainly up north you see this heavy band of rain — but the main focus across northern england and wales, scotland and northern ireland perhaps turning cloudier with an increasing threat of rain later in the week. temperatures still below par for many of us for this time of year. that's your latest weather.
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this is bbc world news today, i'm karin giannone. our top stories: violent clashes in hong kong after one of the biggest marches the territory has ever seen. after hundreds of arrests on election day, kazakhstan‘s interim president has reportedly won more than two thirds of the vote in an exit poll. michael gove acknowledges he committed a crime when he took cocaine while working as a journalist 20 years ago. yes, it was a crime, it was a mistake. i deeply regret it. and rafael nadal wins the french open for the 12th time, defeating dominic thiem in four sets.

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