Veteran Ken's salute to D-Day heroes
Ken Turner, right, shares memories to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings photo Dave Betts
NORMANDY veteran Ken Turner returned to France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Mr Turner, of Keynsham, was among 300 veterans who sailed across the English Channel on a cruise ship commissioned by the Royal British Legion for events to remember the Allied invasion in June 1944.
The operation started a long campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation and eventually bring World War Two to an end the following year.
Mr Turner, 94, was not part of the initial landings on the Normandy beaches but arrived with the 7th Royal Tank Regiment a number of days later to carry out daring reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines.
They were high risk and the men frequently came under fire. For Mr Turner, who was a lance corporal, his war in France came to an end when a German bomber disguised as an Allied plane made a direct hit on his and his two comrades’ tank.
One of the crew died instantly and the other is believed to have died later of his wounds.
Mr Turner said: “The bomb blew my tank to smithereens – my two crew members were killed. How the hell I escaped with only injuries I will never know.”
Shrapnel in his back was removed by medics before he was flown for care to a hospital in Cardiff, but a metal nut which lodged itself in his neck was only removed 20 years ago after an X-ray revealed its location. It is now displayed in a box in his home.
Mr Turner said: “It is a reminder of the war and two men in my tank team who did not survive that blast.”
The event also had a life changing outcome for Mr Turner, who had originally lied about his age when he joined the army at just 16.
While he was in hospital, a group of women from a nearby munitions factory organised a party for the wounded soldiers.
Mr Turner said: “That German pilot did me a favour because that’s when I met my wife Betty, back in hospital.”
After recovering from his injuries, Mr Turner continued his military service in Italy until the Germans surrendered.
He was demobbed and married Betty, the couple going on to have a son, Paul, and daughter, Carole. Mrs Turner died in 1999.
Mr Turner said it was important to remember those who died in the war.
He said: “It must be a lesson to ensure it never happens again.”