'Goodbye old friend'... Horsham D-Day veterans pay tribute to the fallen

Horsham veterans have paid tribute to their fallen friends at the town's D-Day ceremony
Horsham veterans have paid tribute to their fallen friends at the town's D-Day ceremony

As Horsham fell silent today to remember those who fought in the D-Day landings heartfelt tributes have also been paid by the town's veterans.

A special service was held at the War Memorial in the Carfax as Horsham marked the 75th anniversary of the landings which turned the tide of the Second World War.

Alfred Howard pays tribute to his friend Lesley Peach who was killed during the Second World War

Alfred Howard pays tribute to his friend Lesley Peach who was killed during the Second World War

The service was held by the Royal British Legion and was attended by representatives of Horsham District Council and members of the public as well as several veterans.

One of those veterans was Alfred Howard who was part of the 5th Battalion - part of the old Sussex Regiment - which stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6 1944.

Now 102, Alfred recalled that terrifying battle, which he fought in with water up to his waist. He said: “Once we got in the water it was all go go go all the way up to the beach. Everybody was scared stiff but they didn’t show it.

“We lost a lot (of men) in the water when they were coming off the landing craft. A lot of them drowned. We had to push the bodies away to get through them.

Geoffrey Weaving (centre) who was part of the Hydrographic deployment in the Royal Navy during the D-Day landings

Geoffrey Weaving (centre) who was part of the Hydrographic deployment in the Royal Navy during the D-Day landings

“Once we got up the beach it was alright, it wasn’t too bad.”

Alfred fought alongside childhood friend Lesley Peach. The pair grew up together in Horsham, even signing up to the army together, but Lesley was tragically killed during the war.

He was not originally recognised on the Horsham War Memorial but Alfred has since successfully got his name dedicated on the commemorative wall.

Touching the spot at today's service which marks his brother in arms he paid an emotional tribute saying "goodbye old friend."

(From left): Alfred Howard, Don Puttock and Horsham District Council Chairman Kate Rowbottom

(From left): Alfred Howard, Don Puttock and Horsham District Council Chairman Kate Rowbottom

He said: “We were kids together. We went to school together, we left school together, we played football together.

“It’s terrible the number of men we lost. The sad thing was we didn’t feel it. We thought nothing of it at the time.”

Geoffrey Weaving also attended the service with his family. He was 21 when he served in the landings as part of the Hydrographic deployment of the Royal Navy.

Geoffrey was tasked with following the mine sweepers and laying buoys to guide the troop ships into the relevant beach-heads.

He said: "The water was very rough but we had to keep going to help the boys. The heroes were the ones that jumped out of the landingcraft and headed up to the beach. It was a privilege to be there."

Don Puttock landed just after D-Day and was part of the 8th Armoured Brigade in the Kings Royal Rifles corps.

He was just 18 and was involved in battles from France through to Belgium and Germany, driving American Half Tracks until the Allied victory in 1945.

He said: "I was looking for excitement and I certainly got some."