‘If we hadn’t managed to land our troops… this world would have been a different place’: New photographs tell the stories of our D-Day veterans through their own words

To commemorate 80 years since the D-Day landings of June 6, 1944, military charity Blind Veterans UK is paying tribute to the men and women who served in that decisive operation with portraits of survivors, overlaid against images taken at the time they remember too well.

Richard Aldred, a tank driver in the Royal Armoured Corps, recalls: ‘It was pretty bloody rough, actually, Normandy.’

For oiler Thomas Cuthbert, even cooking dinner on his oil tanker was dangerous — in 2019, the late Queen perceptively called it ‘a floating bomb’.

George Chandler, a gunner on a torpedo boat, said: ‘There’s no fun in war.’

Air gunner Syd Podd trained for D-Day for more than three years, flying Halifax bombers and towing gliders with 644 Squadron, and had an astonishing view of the landing craft lined up in the English Channel — ‘dead straight lines both ways… just like Guards parade’.

For bomb-disposal expert Raymond Grose of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, the uniform meant ‘friend’. Inland, he and his fellows tried the ‘lovely apples’ in a cider orchard they found. ‘Cor blimey, horrible things. Sour,’ he said.

Linguist Peggy Harding spent the hours of darkness atop a DF (direction-finding) tower, intercepting German forces’ radio traffic. She was in the dark about the operation, but it was ‘very obvious something was going to happen’.

Serving 27ft below the waterline aboard HMS Campania — onto which this Fairey Fulmar crashed off the Isle of Arran a few days later — Alec Penstone’s duty involved sweeping for mines and detecting U-Boats attacking the convoy: ‘If we hadn’t managed to land our troops… this world would have been a different place.’

For the full stories of the 16 veterans photographed by Richard Cannon for Blind Veterans UK, click here