Nor­mandy mem­o­ries still clear

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Norm Mor­ris says he can’t re­mem­ber what he did 10 min­utes ago, but his mem­o­ries of the Nor­mandy in­va­sion in 1944 are crys­tal clear.

Mr Mor­ris, from Whitby, served with the Royal Air Force Reg­i­ment.

His ground- based unit was re­spon­si­ble for se­cur­ing air­fields in the af­ter­math of the in­va­sion on June, 6, 1944, when the Al­lies landed in France.

He can name per­son­nel he served with and where he was based with ease – it was a pe­riod that shaped his life, the 91-yearold said.

Reg­u­lar get- to­geth­ers with mem­bers of the Nor­mandy Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion, as hap­pened at Duck Creek restau­rant in Pau­ata­hanui last Thurs­day, were spe­cial, he said.

‘‘It keeps our mem­o­ries go­ing. It’s nice to come some­where like this, have some­thing to eat, and talk about those days.’’

Their num­bers are wan­ing. Just seven, plus wives, meet about four times a year. They come from Lower Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti and Frank Jones, from Wainuiomata, said it was some­thing they had been do­ing for 25 years.

‘‘We’re purely a so­cial group. There are no records or min­utes of meet­ings. We’re just try­ing to keep the spirit alive. Ev­ery­one’s good com­pany; we like a laugh.’’

Mr Jones is the ‘‘baby’’ of the group, at just 87. On June 6, 1944, he was on the cruiser HMS Belfast, which sat off the beaches and bombed the Ger­man de­fences in­land ‘‘for days and days and days’’.

He is sure the con­ti­nous shelling from the 6-inch shells con­trib­uted to him be­ing hard of hear­ing later in life.

His mem­o­ries of D- Day are grim. ‘‘We were off [land­ing beach] Juno and were as­sist­ing the Cana­di­ans. I saw the bod­ies of so many of their young soldiers float­ing past in the wa­ter. I re­mem­ber that like it was yes­ter­day.’’

Doug Fin­lay, from Whitby, flew over Nor­mandy for the first time three days af­ter the land­ings. He was an air gun­ner in a Hal­i­fax bomber, fly­ing with a Cana­dian squadron.

His then girl­friend Jay, now his wife, worked in an op­er­a­tions room in Lin­colnshire. The day Doug’s air­craft ditched in the English Chan­nel was a scary one for her.

‘‘I rang through to his sta­tion, but was told ‘he’s un­avail­able’, which means he’s miss­ing. He spent 11 hours in a lifeboat but he’s here to­day.’’

Jay, 92, and Doug, 95, en­joy the com­pan­ion­ship that comes from the lunches, which used to take place at RSAs around the re­gion un­til re­cently.

No New Zealand ground forces landed on the beaches of Nor­mandy, but about 10,000 Royal New Zealand Air Force and Navy per­son­nel served with the Bri­tish ships and air force squadrons which sup­ported the D-Day land­ings.

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