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Veterans share their stories of D-Day

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IT’S 70 years since the horrific events of the time, but those who were involved can still remember the D-Day landings like they were yesterday.

Two veterans of the Second World War have been at the D-Day Museum in Southsea talking to visitors about their wartime experiences and the invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Dozens of people listened to them recount their vivid memories of the war.

Eddie Wallace, 90, of Milton, was a sergeant in an artillery regiment which stormed a beach in Normandy.

Gordon Dance, 88, of Aldershot, was a Royal Navy stoker who helped to build an undersea pipeline which would connect Britain to France.

They will both be in Portsmouth for official D-Day anniversary commemorations next week.

The veterans regularly meet visitors to the museum during school holidays.

Mr Wallace said: ‘The idea was to teach children about it, but we often end up answering questions from their grandparents as well.’

Mr Wallace, chairman of the Portsmouth branch of the Normandy Veterans’ Association, came ashore under German fire on Juno beach with a regiment of Canadians.

He said: ‘The bow doors of the boat opened, the red light went off and the green light went on and then it was just “go, go, go! We had to get off that boat and onto the beach as soon as possible.

‘Then we had to get off that beach as soon as we could.

‘The Royal Engineers had already been there and had blasted a large hole in the promenade to enable tanks and heavy guns like ours ashore.’

Mr Dance worked in Britain on a secret project known as ‘Pluto’ – the Pipe Line Under the Ocean, which was laid from the Isle of Wight to France after D-Day.

He said: ‘It had two pipes, one was for water, because we had been told by the French resistance, the Maquis, that the Germans were contaminating the drinking water. The other was for fuel, because we knew we wouldn’t have fuel over there.

‘I didn’t find out until a few years ago just how important the project was.

‘It was something that had to be done and we were there to do it at the time.’

Mr Wallace and Mr Dance will be at the museum again tomorrow talking to visitors from 11am to 3pm.

 

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