TWO former shipmates retraced the journey they made to Normandy 75 years ago, after meeting for the first time since the end of the war.
Ernest Green and Robert Barnett, both 93, were on HMS Redpole when it sailed to Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. They spent three years together on the ship before returning home in 1946 — and unbeknown to them lived 19 miles apart in Dorset.
On Wednesday, the men were reunited at the D-Day commemoration after one of Mr Green’s relatives heard an interview with Mr Barnett. That evening, they shared a pint on the MV Boudicca which took them from Portsmouth to France overnight.
Mr Green, from Wareham, said it was ‘marvellous’ to be reunited, and the veterans recounted their mission — to escort a landing craft to the beach.
Both men were emotional as they described having to watch Canadian troops being killed in the water as the pair manned guns on the ship, protecting the landing craft from attacks. Mr Green, his voice cracking, said: ‘To see the chaps who were dead in the water. I’m sorry, I get emotional when I think of it.’
Mr Barnett, of Christchurch, nodded as he continued: ‘We couldn’t do anything.
“We had picked them up the day before, on the Isle of Wight.’
Mr Barnett’s wife Martha said he had always wanted to stay in touch with his comrades but was later taken off the ship for medical treatment, and, when he returned, everyone had gone.
She added: ‘He is so pleased to have met somebody who knows what he went through.’