D-Day 70: Veterans remember

Eric Drube, 90, who was a stoker on HMS Cockatrice on D-Day, and his son Malcolm Drube, 49, from Milton Keynes on Southsea Common during the D-Day commemorations

Eric Drube, 90, who was a stoker on HMS Cockatrice on D-Day, and his son Malcolm Drube, 49, from Milton Keynes on Southsea Common during the D-Day commemorations

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SCORES of veterans attended the commemorations on Southsea Common.

Many had their own memories of leaving from Portsmouth shores 70 years ago.

A lunch was held for them and their families and guests in a marquee on the common.

In the crowd was Louise Purcell, the Poppy Appeal co-ordinator for Portsmouth, who was with 95-year old Frank Sims.

Mr Sims served in the artillery in the 51st Highland Division. He travelled from Reading and is a regular face in Portsmouth as he has attended many commemorative events in the city.

Mr Sims said: ‘I’m proud to be here. I still get about, nobody believes me when I tell them my age. I always attend these events, every year.’

Mrs Purcell, 47, from Fratton, said: ‘It’s great to take part and pay tribute to the veterans who lost so many of their comrades and subsequently must be remembered.’

For 89-year-old Muriel Drube it was a proud moment to see the veterans pay their respects for her husband Eric, who was a stoker on board HMS Cockatrice, which swept for mines ahead of the ships on D-Day.

Mrs Drube, from Milton Keynes, said: ‘We have been married for 65 years, Eric turned 90 two Saturdays ago and on his birthday he gave our granddaughter away at her wedding. With this commemoration, it has been a very important year for us.’

Mr Drube said he was one of the lucky ones. He said: ‘On D-Day we went straight into a minefield, I remember counting 300 flat mines around us, just one of them could have sunk a ship and we were in amongst them.

‘They were 10 yards from our ship. Whoever made them must have left them empty because otherwise we would’ve been blown away.’

Click here for details of the 70th anniversary supplement published by The News to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day

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