“It was war, and it was coming through my headphones": D-Day veteran recalls using radio for first time

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A D-Day veteran has said she will ‘never forget’ the sounds of war coming through her headphones the first time she used a radio.

Marie Scott, 97, served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and relayed messages to and from her station at Fort Southwick in Portsmouth and the beaches in Normandy. Ms Scott, who lives near Kingston-upon-Thames in Surrey, originally joined the WRNS as a switchboard operator but was trained to use a radio two months before D-Day at just 17 years old.

The veteran explained how the radio was a ‘simple machine’ with levers that operated a one-way system meaning only one person could speak at a time. Ms Scott remembered the shock she experienced the first time she used the radio to speak to a signaller on the frontline.

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She said: “When I lifted my lever to talk to the recipient at the other end, I had the shock of my life because when he lifted his lever to respond, I was in the middle of the war.

“I could hear rapid machine gun fire, heavier cannon fire, bombs dropping, men shouting orders, men screaming – it was horrifying.

“It was war, and it was coming through my headphones.

D-Day veteran Marie Scott, who worked on the switchboard in the tunnels under Fort Southwick in Portsmouth, and transmitted messages to and from the beaches, at her home in New Malden, south west London, ahead of the 80th anniversary of DDay. Picture date: Thursday April 4, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story MEMORIAL DDay Scott. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA WireD-Day veteran Marie Scott, who worked on the switchboard in the tunnels under Fort Southwick in Portsmouth, and transmitted messages to and from the beaches, at her home in New Malden, south west London, ahead of the 80th anniversary of DDay. Picture date: Thursday April 4, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story MEMORIAL DDay Scott. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
D-Day veteran Marie Scott, who worked on the switchboard in the tunnels under Fort Southwick in Portsmouth, and transmitted messages to and from the beaches, at her home in New Malden, south west London, ahead of the 80th anniversary of DDay. Picture date: Thursday April 4, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story MEMORIAL DDay Scott. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire | Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

“I am more than a little proud of what we did then, but not many people know about it and the children of this country certainly know nothing about World War Two which I think is sad because it was an important war.

“I think war is horrifying and we should only ever go to war when totally justified and that war was – we had to go to war.”

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The 80th anniversary of D-Day will take place on June 5, 1944, and Portsmouth is preparing for a huge event on Southsea Common to remember those that fought in the war. D-Day, which is also known as the Normandy Landings, was an allied mission involving land, sea and air operations in a bid to liberate Normandy from the German occupation.

The main Portsmouth event will take place on June 5 and there will be tributes to veterans, live military music, a flyover and the city will also welcomed the King, Queen, Prince of Wales and the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The anniversary proceedings will be broadcast on the BBC for all to see.

Ms Scott added: “The horrors of war are with you for a lifetime and those sounds will certainly be lingering with me until the end.

“I shall never forget that.

“I was operating deep in the tunnels, deeply underground, very safe and I was talking to men, signallers of course, who were facing a barrage of machine gun fire or whatever, so it was a very distinctive interview and one that I shall never ever forget.” For more information about the D-Day event, click here.

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