D-Day liberators retrace their steps 70 years on

South Wales Argus: DISPLAY: The memorabilia is on display in Normandy DISPLAY: The memorabilia is on display in Normandy

TWO Newport veterans will be joining royals, presidents and prime ministers in Normandy today to commemorate 70 years since the D-Day landings.

Frank James, 95, and Eddie Linton, 87, have both made the trip to France to visit the beaches where they fought during the major offensive against the Nazis on June 6, 1944.

It is Mr James’ first return visit to Gold Beach, where his regiment the 4th-7th Royal Dragoon Guards landed, and Mr Linton’s second.

Mr James and fellow Royal Welsh Comrades members Richard Crew, 70, David Smith, 75 and Mr Crew’s friend Gerald Lee, 62, have spent the last week in France taking part in commemorative events.

Today, he is to be honoured with the Gold Beach Medal by the Mayor of Creully for his part in liberating the French town 70 years ago.

Mr James is also due to meet the daughter of his sergeant, who was shot and killed by a German sniper when he and his comrades landed on Gold Beach, for the first time today.

Mr Linton, of Somerton, saw more than 100 of his fellow sailors killed in action when his ship was sunk a week after D-Day.

He was one of only 20 to leave the HMS Mourne alive when it was torpedoed on June 15 1944.

He returned to Normandy in June last year for the first time with the help of the Big Lottery Fund Heroes Return scheme but has again made the trip for the 70th anniversary.

Speaking to the Argus last year, Mr Linton recalled June 15 1944, when his ship was called to sweep the English Channel further down from the beaches.

He said: “We were going in to attack a U-boat but before we got her, another one got us and we went down in two minutes.

“The majority of the casualties died in the initial hit and it was one hell of a blast. When it hit us a huge fireball went up in the air. They’d hit us directly in the magazine section and all that went up. The poor devils down below never stood a chance – no chance at all.”

Mr Linton, still a teenager, was on deck and managed to escape. After several hours in the water, he was picked up by HMS Aylme and taken back to Plymouth.

A Caerleon family have travelled to Normandy to visit the museum where the World War Two memorabilia of a relative is displayed as part of the D-Day commemorations.

Mother and daughter, Linda Bailey and Suzanne Dennehy, travelled to Normandy on Monday along with family members Anthony Dennhey and Paul Bailey, as part of a special trip to mark the 70th anniversary of the historic day.

Mrs Bailey’s father Fred Singleton was just 20 years old when he took part in the D-Day invasion as a Royal Engineers 3rd Para landing in ‘Drop Zone Two’ between Ranville and Amfreville.

Daughter Linda Bailey said: “When my father landed in a glider, he was challenged by a French man called Leon Jehanne who came towards my father and challenged him with his World War One rifle and helmet.

“My father had to tell him they were Allies and the invasion had begun.”

Mr Singleton stayed in Normandy until August, developing a close friendship with the Jehanne and Renard family, becoming close friends with Pierre Renard, son-in-law of Leon Jehanne.

During the war Mr Singleton served in Germany, France, Palestine, Holland and Singapore. He wrote to friend Pierre in 1952.

The pair kept up their correspondence, with Mr Singleton, his wife and daughter coming to visit the Renard family for years after his initial visit in 1959.

Mr Singleton also went to Normandy to mark the anniversaries of the D-Day landings every year and was a member of the Parachute Regiment Association in Cwmbran and the Royal Engineers Association in Monmouthshire.

His last visit to Normandy was in the early 2000’s before he died in 2004.

“My father and Pierre had a very close relationship,” Mrs Bailey said.

“They regarded each other as brothers.

“They were so close because they had experienced extraordinary events.”

When Mr Singleton died, Mrs Bailey found an old kit bag filled with memorabilia from the war including letters, postcards and diaries.

The family have donated the findings to Pegasus Bridge Museum, in Normandy where they are displayed.

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