A VETERAN who saw first-hand the bloody aftermath of D-Day, has spoken of the importance of remembering those who lost their lives.
David Kamsler MBE was 18 when he landed on Gold Beach in France on the second day of the Allied invasion, on June 7, 1944.
His gruesome task was to help to clear the beach, including some of the bodies of men who had died the day before. Around 400 British soldiers were either killed or wounded capturing the beach from the Germans.
Seventy years on, Mr Kamsler, 88, watched on television as the 70th anniversary of the biggest-ever seaborne invasion was remembered in northern France at the end of last week.
Mr Kamsler was impressed with the 22,000 Union flags laid at Gold Beach, which equates roughly to the number of British men who died in the Normandy invasion on D-Day and the days that followed.
He said: “It’s very important that we remember what happened. If you are not careful it could well end up being another forgotten war like Korea.”
Mr Kamsler, of Gershwin Road, Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, lied about his age at a reporting office in Acton, London, to join the Army during the Second World War.
As part of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment, he was one of 2,000 troops on an Indian ship that approached Gold Beach.
Seventy years on, he said he still has flashbacks of having to jump from a cargo net on the side of the Indian troop carrier into a small craft waiting below to take them to shore.
He recalled: “It was not a dry landing at all, as the ship could not get any closer. We were up to our waist in water – if the men tripped and fell, they could not get up because we were carrying 60lbs on our back.
“Our job was to clear mines, and clear debris and corpses. Two days after, I was looking out to sea – a boat had sunk and there were bodies floating in the water.”
After the invasion was successful, Mr Kamsler’s specialist unit was disbanded and he was sent as part of reinforcements for troops fighting to gain control of the French town of Caen.
Mr Kamsler remained in the Army after the Second World War and served in the Korean War in 1953.