PHIL Carey recalls wondering whether he would even reach the beaches of Normandy.
Aged 22, he was with the Royal 2nd Tactical Air Force, crossing the Channel with hundreds of members of the US Army to land on Utah Beach.
He said: “There was the thought of ‘Is this the last time we’ll see England?’, ‘Are we going to come back here?’, ‘What’s going to happen to us?’ “
As a religious person, I thought, well, I didn’t want to go and see my maker too quickly.
“We wondered, would we reach the beaches? Many of the ships were fired on as we went across to the beach.”
London-born Mr Carey had joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve and had been trained at Bournemouth and Kirkham, near Blackpool. He and his fellow airmen were living in tents at Hurn Airport until shortly before D-Day.
“We moved down to Gosport and that was an amazing time because there were so many people there. All the women came out, gave us tea and supplies as we waited to go on the boat.” he said.
“I was amazed to see the number of ships around that area.”
He saw many of his shipmates perish before he even left the boat.
“As we got nearer to the beach, nearly 200 of the dedicated soldiers of the American Army moved off and they all had heavy equipment. To our horror they just started sinking and nobody could do anything. It was a complete swamp. They went down, completely sunk, and nobody could rescue them.”
Mr Carey’s role on D-Day involved ensuring there were landing facilities for helicopters transporting the seriously wounded and for landing supplies.
He recalls saying a prayer as he reached the beaches.
“The next step was to start getting our vehicles and goods together because we had to carry so much equipment and wires and wood to lay the foundations,” he said.
“We were thinking about our folk at home and what were the others doing that were landing in the six other areas. A couple of days later, we were given some news that it had been successful.”
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