A GWENT man who was there on D-Day and went on to see his ship hit by a kamikaze pilot in the Far East, is celebrating his 99th birthday.

Trefor Bray, who lives in Rogerstone with his wife Margaret, was born on November 8, 1924 in Abercarn, and was 19 years old when he was called up in 1943.

After leaving Newbridge Grammar School aged 15 he got a job in the aluminium factory in Rogerstone before he joined the Navy.

Mr Bray shared his D-Day memories with the Argus earlier this year.

He said he asked to join the Navy – even though he couldn’t swim - because his two brothers were serving as sailors.

He was on the Isle of Man for his training at HMS Valkyrie before moving to the south coast of England for more training.

He said: “By June 1944 we knew something was going to happen but we had no idea what. We had been doing exercises on the beaches but there was total secrecy about why.”

His ship, Captain Class Frigate HMS Kingsmill, arrived at Gold Beach at 6am on June 6, 1044.

Mr Bray said: "The barrage started. It was like hell let loose and it seemed to last forever. I have never heard such a noise before or since.”

Mr Bray’s ship’s turn came at 7.26am when the troops they were carrying were ‘off-loaded’ – 15 Northumberland Division, which had recently returned from fighting in the desert with Montgomery, the Green Howards and 47th Commando Unit.

He said: “It was a very long day but we had the Mulberry harbours and Pluto – the pipeline under the ocean – which saved a lot of time getting us oil supplies.

“During the day we paid visits to the beach taking equipment. It showed the extent of the enemies anti-invasion defences and the Allies’ inventiveness and improvisation in demolishing them.

“It was a sight to see Flail Tanks and landing craft connected to rocket launches and what a sight that was to see the rockets launched.

“It was a day which has lived in my mind forever. I would not have missed it because in some small way I was part of making modern history. It was a great honour to have served my country.”

After D-Day he was assigned to Fleet Carrier HMS Indefatigable which took him to the Far East with the British Pacific Fleet where he, unexpectedly, met up with his two brothers.

He said: “On April Fools Day in 1945 the Americans invaded Okinawa and there were 300 kamikazes attacking.

“That was a most awful experience. We couldn’t get over the fact that a man could get into a plane with the intention of not coming back. They were fanatics.

“One hit our ship. We lost one man and there were many injured. It was the saddest thing you can witness seeing someone being buried at sea with a flag over the ‘coffin’. That is one memory which has never left me.”

He said it was a privilege that his ship represented the fleet in Tokyo Bay when the armistice was signed to end the war in the Far East.

After spending six months in Australia he eventually returned to South Wales and went back to his job at the factory in Rogerstone – where he worked for a total of 41 years.

In 1949 he met Margaret, who is from Risca, and they married in March 1952.