D-Day veteran relives horror of war's most deadliest mission
A South Tyneside war veteran has spoken of the horrors he faced as a young man as he fought to save King and country.
Today and tomorrow people will gather to pay their respects to the nation’s fallen heroes at services to mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday.
But for Norman Robinson, the harsh reality of war still remains with him at the age of 94 - one of a dwindling band of surviving D-Day veterans who took part in the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944.
Mr Robinson, from Hebburn, was the ship radar operator abourd the HMS Campanula.
He said: “My job was to keep the ship on course. We were heading for Caen’s ferry port of Ouistreham. That’s where we landed.
“Our operation was to lay a pipeline under the ocean to supply fuel.
“It was like all hell was let loose. You’re thinking about your life, your shipmates’ lives. You just can’t describe it.
“There were countless bodies floating in the sea of those who never made it.
“When the war was over it was like the start of a new life for me.
“I consider myself really lucky to have survived and I have been lucky ever since.”
He described how those involved had very little idea what they were getting into.
He said: “There was very little information. We had a dummy run and it was then we realised where we were going.
“Everyone of us taking part in Operation Overlord as it was called were given a letter from General Eisenhower.
“It said that the eyes of the world were upon us and that our opponents would fight savagely.
“He wished us good luck and said he had sought the blessing from God.”
He added: “The night before D-Day, hundreds of bombers went over.
Mr Robinson had been called up to join the fight against Hitler’s forces on his 19th birthday.
Training followed including an eight-week stint in Scotland over the Christmas of 1942 - setting sail on December 24.
Based in Liverpool, his vessel would sail up and down the coast delivering whatever goods was needed for those heading into battle.
Afte the war ended Mr Robinson returned to his trade as a butcher - working at Atkinson’s Butchers in Jarrow.
He added: “I was working with a good crew. There was never an argument.
“We just all got on with what we were there to do.”