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Swift, Brian

Town : Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Regiment : Royal Engineers
Landed in Normandy : Juno Beach
Juno Beach was quiet as Brian Swift, of Shanklin, and his Royal Engineers assault unit approached in an American-manned landing craft. The Germans were blissfully unaware that the biggest sea-borne invasion in history was about to hit the beach in a few hours' time. "The skipper was a two-and-a-half-ringer but all the crew addressed him as 'Red”, he recalls. "I can't imagine that happening in the Royal Navy.!" Brian, then 18 years old, and his unit were to land before the main assault to try to remove limpet mines from beach obstacles. "We were up to our necks in water. When the main assault began all hell was let loose and the Canadians took a lot of casualties as they came ashore." Coming from an army family, Brian volunteered for the army at the age of 16. After training with the Royal Engineers he was posted to Scotland where his company built one of the Mulberry harbours specially designed to be towed across the Channel and set in place off the landing beaches to facilitate the landing of huge quantities of supplies needed to support the troops fighting ashore until ports could be captured. When that job was completed Brian's unit was sent to Weybridge in Surrey in May 1944 for a week and then to a sealed camp at Waterlooville for the D-Day briefing. After the Normandy landing they pushed on through the mayhem and turmoil towards Caen and then on to Holland. With the end of the war in Europe in sight Brian was posted to the Far East to continue the fight against the Japanese. Brian was one of the youngest men in the army to be promoted to sergeant and was looking forward to a successful career in the army after the war, but his mother's ill health persuaded him to leave the army and a take a job with the Ford Motor Company at Dagenham. He moved to the island with his wife Laura on retirement.
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