FEATURE: ‘Nothing prepares you for the reality’

Mayor of Boston presenting Legion of Honour Medals to 3 Normandy Veterans.
Mayor of Boston presenting Legion of Honour Medals to 3 Normandy Veterans.

Frank Richards, 90, from Sibsey, was just 17 years old and a new recuit in the Royal Marines at the time of the landings.

He took part in the first day of the D-Day landings, arriving by sea on landing craft.

The D-Day landings was the single largest deployment in the history of the Marine Corps involving 17,500 personnel. They were heavily involved in the initial landings, operating landing craft and assaulting the beaches.

The veteran said: “As soon as we dropped the ramp onto the beach the Germans were there waiting. It was the worst day. I dropped the ramps and we were straight onto the beach. There was so much blood. I’d never seen so much in my life.”

As well as taking part in the landings, Frank also served in Australia and Sri Lanka. He said: “We thought we were going home, then they said you’re going to Australia for 12 months, then to Sri Lanka.

“It was murder. You get your training but nothing prepares you for what it was really like.”

Proudly receiving his medal, he said: “We had to wait so long for this. It was a surprise to finally get it. We thought they had forgotten about us.”