KENWICK resident Robert Tweed (91) is one of the few remaining World War II veterans who can give a first-hand account of the D-Day landings at Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, during the Allied forces advance, Mr Tweed was behind the wheel of a landing barge carrying essential medical equipment, food stocks and four crew members.
The barge was strategically stationed behind a fleet of Royal Navy Landing Craft Assault (LCA), which were off-loading thousands of troops on Gold Beach, who were on a mission to retake much of Europe.
Mr Tweed was 19 at the time and held the position of Leading Seaman Coxswain with the Royal British Navy. He had joined the Navy a year earlier in March, 1943 as it seemed like the more “glamorous” force to go into but as he travelled 100 miles across the English channel en route to Normandy, he realised it was anything but.
“I was seasick for nearly 24 hours,” he said. “I was that crook I had nothing left in my tummy.
“There were hundreds of thousand of people just like me too. The troops had been cooped up in transport ships for two days before the invasion because there was a big storm, but General Eisenhower said to go ahead when the weather cleared.”
Mr Tweed can remember watching from his barge as thousands of troops jumped from the LCA and made their way on to the beach as they advanced towards German forces.
“It was like a crusade,” he said.
“Months of planning, practising and training had gone on before and it was finally happening. Our lives were in the lap of the gods.”
After the troops had pushed further inland, Mr Tweed and hundreds of other barges stationed themselves at the beaches of Normandy.
For three weeks, they brought food and medical supplies from the merchant ships further out at sea to the shore so they could get to the troops.
Although fighting took place inland, the beaches of Normandy were always under threat, Mr Tweed said.
“One week, we got shelled by the Germans about 12 miles away,” he said. “They used to come up from tunnels at night and start firing shells.
“They couldn’t see us but they had years of experience to get their range and precision right, so they were a good shot. You could hear the sound of shrapnel going past like an express train.”
After Normandy, Mr Tweed was sent to beaches and ports throughout Europe and eventually ended up on the HMS Cumberland, which transported troops across the world.
He travelled 52,000 miles in six months on the HMS Cumberland.
In 1957, Mr Tweed, his wife Susie Mary and daughter Patricia immigrated to Perth from England. He moved to Kenwick in 1966 where he still lives today.