SEVENTY years ago, Ted Turner helped to storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day.
As an 18-year-old Royal Marine, he helped Canadian troops secure a beachhead on Juno beach in the decisive invasion of France in June 1944.
Ted, who lives in Waterlooville and is a regular worshipper at St John’s Church, Purbrook, will tell his story on a special Songs of Praise programme to be broadcast on on BBC1 at 5.10pm today.
And on June 6 – 70 years to the day since the D-Day invasion – he will be in Normandy for the anniversary.
‘The older I get, the more emotional I get about it, said Ted, now 88.
‘I started to well up when Pam Rhodes asked me about it. It’s remembering friends who never came back.’
Ted was born and brought up in Hilsea. He joined the Royal Marines in 1943. On June 4, 1944, he sailed across to Lee-on-the-Solent and came alongside a Canadian troop ship. And on June 5, they sailed across the Channel in landing craft as part of the invasion.
Seven miles off the French coast, the Canadian engineers and their trailer came on board their landing craft, and Ted and his colleagues inched towards Juno Beach near Courseulles-sur-Mer.
‘It was very quiet, no one spoke,” said Ted. ‘Then when we got close to the beach, the Germans started firing and it was pretty noisy. I was used to it, as my dad had been in charge of the Firewatch in Portsmouth, so I’d heard air raids and gunfire anyway.
‘I wasn’t frightened. I was only young, so it felt a bit like an adventure to me, even at that stage. We landed the troops on the beach and then backed off, so we could see what was going on. Some landing craft were hit and started sinking, some Canadians were being shot around us.
‘We slept on the beach that night, and I remember a German plane coming over and flying very low. We were all firing at it.’
Ted, whose wife Enid died four years-ago, spent six weeks in Normandy. Many of his comrades died.
He will be presented with an insignia by a local headteacher on behalf of the French when he returns to France next week.
He also hopes to visit Ranvilles Cemetery.