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The story of two Tees veterans.

Byline: Kathryn Smith

THREE million troops crossed the channel on June 6, 1944 for the biggest seaborne invasion in history.

A further 7,000 fell from the skies and among them was a 17-year-old Walter Catchpole and Ron Tucker, 18. Both served in the Sixth Airborne Division after signing up at 16.

Walter said the excitement before the invasion soon turned to fear. "We were excited and thought we could take them all on. We soon changed our minds."

Ron added: "When you dropped into action, you might have been a boy, but within a week you were a man."

Of the 601 men in Walter's battalion who took part in the invasion, only 75 came away alive. Ron fought with 150 comrades. Only half survived. He was nearly in the other half though. As he landed, he was caught in machine gun fire.

Three bullets tore through his rucksack while the fourth would have ripped through his flesh if it wasn't for a crucifix in his pocket, which he'd been given by a French monk. He carries the cross in his breast pocket to this day.
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 27, 2007
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