D-Day veteran Ken Scott will travel to Normandy one last time today and has packed his original British Army uniform for the trip.
The 98-year-old from Royal Wootton Bassett will join fellow veterans for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. He fought in the battle of Normandy as an infantry sergeant with the Durham Light Infantry.
He is looking forward to his return under very different circumstances and is keen to show French youngsters “what a real Tommy looks like”.
The trip, organised by The Wiltshire Normandy Veterans Association, runs from tomorrow until Saturday and includes a ceremony involving 40 heads of state at Gold Beach, Ouistreham.
Ken began his journey to Normandy in 1944 with a train ride from Cambridge and landed on a section of coast codenamed Gold Beach, one of five areas chosen for the attack.
He said: “We were put on the train at Cambridge. You couldn’t tell where we were going, you couldn’t see the names on the trains because they were all blacked out anyway.
“Eventually the train stopped, we disembarked and we got on to the landing craft and it was dark. I couldn’t even remember what time it was.
“I don’t know to this day what port we left from; nobody told us where we were – they just told us to get on the boat. We set off and it wasn’t so choppy, but some boys were sick.
“We all had a smoke because we were frightened to death. The thing pulled up, there was a beach, the craft opened and you just had to go.
“You just ran like hell up the beach to get some cover.”
Ken was already a seasoned fighter, having spent three years in the Western Desert in North Africa serving as a quartermaster with the eighth Army 30 Corps.
During this time he fought in the battle of El Alamein, from October 23 to November 11, 1942, and helped win a key victory for the Allies.
Up to 3,000 Allied troops died on D-Day alone and he believes his experience helped him survive the initial onslaught and the weeks of intense combat that followed.
He said: “We knew what it was like to be under fire. In the Western Desert it was worse than being in France, we had no cover and we had to sleep in the sand.
“Once we got ashore there was a ditch, a fence, there was a house for shelter, but there was nothing in the Western Desert. There was nothing at all.
“We didn’t know, you never thought about it being the last battle. They said ‘the war is over, the war is finished’ and we thought ‘what do we do now?’”