ONE of Swindon's last veterans who stormed the Normandy beaches on D-Day has died aged 96.

Henry Prescott, known as Harry, was a Royal Marine in the No47 Commando unit tasked with landing on Sword Beach on June 6, 1944 with the allies when he was just 21.

The former commando, who lived in Freshbrook for 25 years, eventually fought all the way to Germany.

On approaching the beach his landing craft was hit by an enemy mine and he was one of only seven in the vessel to survive the blast.

He was put back into circulation again only days later where his unit was instrumental in re-taking Port-en-Bessin – known as Operation Aubrey - and went on to help liberate parts of the Netherlands, including recapturing the Dutch island of Walcheren near to Antwerp.

His great grandson Kevin Allen, who lives in Rodbourne, told the Adver: “He said he always classed himself as being very lucky.

“He told a story once when he was in the sand dunes near the Antwerp estuary, he looked over to where his mates were, and all of a sudden there was a big bang and they were all gone.”

In 2016 Henry travelled to France to pick up his Legion d’Honneur, recognising his role in liberating occupied France in the landings.

At the 70th commemoration of the D-Day landings Harry retraced his steps in Normandy and met the Queen and former commandos in his unit.

At the time he told the Adver: “For me being part of D-Day was an honour. I joined the marines in 1943 and volunteered with the commandos.

Speaking about the D-Day landings he added: “Other crafts came to pick up survivors and took us back to the ship. I came back seven days later. I was scared of going back, having been sunk and losing people.

“You do your training but when you get bombed on your first day and lose 20 people you think ‘it’s the real thing – it’s not training anymore’.

“Wherever we went people were welcoming us and thanking us for liberating them. I just think I’ve done my part. I feel like I don’t deserve it, I was one of the lucky ones that came back.”

Born in Canada to English parents Harry only got hold of a British passport to go to the D-Day commemorations in 2014, but since then has put it to good use.

He found out around six months ago he had a inoperable stomach tumour and spent much of his time left on holiday with friends.

Close friend a carer Sheila Brown told the Adver: “He was very much respected for all of his life.

“He had lots of friends and his neighbours loved him to bits. He will be sorely missed by lots of people.”

Harry went on holiday to the Canary Islands as well as Cyprus twice in his final months as he was waiting for his results to come back.

“He loved to dance the waltz, even when we were away, I’ve got videos of him dancing not long before he died,” said Sheila, “he’s up there having a dance I’m sure.

“He never gave up with anything, he was an incredible man, he really was.”

Harry died on December 28 after a brief stay in hospital, just before the 75th memorial to the D-Day landings due to be held in June this year where surviving members of the Royal Commando Association pay their respects to their fallen comrades.

“He really wanted to go to that, but it wasn’t to be,” added Sheila.

“The camaraderie between them was incredible.”

The funeral, which will be attended by close family and the 47 Royal Marine Commando Association, will be held on January 21 at 2pm at the North Wiltshire Crematorium.