Case study: 'I was a boy at the start of D-Day, a man when it finished'

Walter Marshall, 88, from Grimsby was a Royal Navy officer, who commanded part of the approaches to the British landing beaches

“It was hell and I mean that. It was terrible. I can sit here now and see all the bodies. Thousands and thousands of young men – brothers, sons, fathers. Going down like flies. By nearly midday, the sea was absolutely red with blood and the bodies were so thick that the troops coming ashore had to push the bodies aside. That’s how bad it was. Believe me, it was traumatic.

“A tank had come ashore and run over five bodies – five men that were wounded and were waiting to be put on a landing craft to be brought out to the hospital ship. That were so sad. You could break down in tears if you weren’t doing the job in hand. It harmed you. I was a boy when it started but, believe me, I was man when it finished.”