D-Day anniversary: Veteran recalls preparing dead serviceman for sea burial
A veteran attending the National Commemorative Event to mark 75 years since D-Day emotionally described preparing a dead serviceman for sea burial.
Alfred Fuzzard, 97, from Bexhill, was a petty officer in the Royal Navy during the Normandy landings.
He was on Landing Craft 30 and left Portsmouth at 2pm on the day before D-Day, carrying Royal Marines and sailors on board.
‘I wouldn't have missed D-Day for the world," he said.
‘It was a bit rough going over but it calmed down when we got near the beach. The RAF had carpet bombed the beaches before we got there.
‘It was dawn when we arrived on Sword Beach.’
Mr Fuzzard, who is travelling on the Royal British Legion's cruise to mark the anniversary, praised the RAF who ‘saved a lot of British lives’ during the operations.
He recounted how his task during D-Day was to protect marines from aerial and surface attacks.
‘We had rocket ships behind us - we could hear the shells going over the top of us,’ he said.
He said he could ‘feel the heat’ of bombs that had been deployed shortly before their arrival on the beach.
Later on, he began retrieving bodies from the beaches.
‘We started to pick up bodies and this chap we picked up on the evening of D-Day - he had to be buried,’ Mr Fuzzard said, his voice cracking with emotion.
‘I wanted him to be sent home. But they said “there's too many of them”.
‘He had a picture of his wife, his two children. There was me sewing him up ready for burial the next day.
‘I feel it now. I can just see the picture all the time, every time I think about it.
‘There was no name, nothing on him. When we went for D-Day we weren't to carry any ID whatsoever but he carried this photograph of his wife.
‘I think he wanted to keep it near his heart in case he died. Every time I think about it, it upsets me, even now after all this.
‘Then we stopped picking up bodies.’