D-Day veteran: ‘We were shot at from all angles’

Frederick Wyatt explains his decorations to a youngster. Picture: Getty
Frederick Wyatt explains his decorations to a youngster. Picture: Getty
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A D-DAY veteran has recalled how he and comrades were “shot at from all angles” as they landed in Normandy.

Royal Navy veteran Alexander Leslie, 98, from Edinburgh yesterday described the “terrible” scenes of 6 June 1944.

Grandfather Mr Leslie said: “I remember our ship was loaded with American troops. They were squeezed in everywhere.

“The beach landings were terrible – the number of casualties was just awful. Nobody wanted to go out there. It wasn’t good at all, being shot at from all angles, very scary. But we all supported each other.”

Mr Leslie joined the Royal Navy at the age of 24 and was posted to Scapa Flow in Orkney before being tasked with protecting transfers of essential supplies to the besieged island of Malta. His brother was also in the Royal Navy but the ship he was on was sunk by friendly fire before the D-Day invasion began. He had to swim for two hours to safety but he survived.

After the war, Mr Leslie returned to his wife Nancy and went on to work as a life insurance salesman.

He remembers the cramped conditions on the ships that carried troops in Operation Neptune. More than 75,000 British and Canadian troops and over 57,000 US troops were landed by sea on D-Day.

Mr Leslie said: “One poor chap decided to sleep underneath my hammock. I warned him he should be careful. If the alarm sounded, I would jump out of my hammock and was liable to land on him with both feet.

“He didn’t listen and, sure enough, the alarm went up, everyone ran to their posts and when we came back the chap was lying unconscious under my hammock.”

The veteran now lives in a home run by the Erskine charity in Edinburgh, where the Castle will be lit up purple to mark the anniversary.