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D-Day veteran at 70th anniversary commemoration
10:35am Thursday 19th June 2014 in News
A SILSDEN war veteran who took part in the D-Day landings has been back to the beaches where thousands died to liberate Western Europe.
Bernard Rush, 91, travelled to Normandy with his wife Catherine and their two daughters to take part in the commemorations of the decisive 1944 battle.
During the June 6 landings, Mr Rush was a Royal Navy motor mechanic on a barge, which was ferrying engineering personnel across the English Channel to Omaha Beach.
"We got across the Channel with great difficulty," he said. "There was quite a swell and it wasn't very comfortable. The barge could only do about seven to 10 miles per hour and it was dipping and rolling all the time. Anyone that wasn't sick was lucky!
"On the way to the beach another barge crashed into us and split a seam in our barge. Every time we dropped down into the sea the water flooded into our galley. We were pumping water out all the way there.
"It doesn't seem like 70 years ago. It feels like it all happened yesterday."
Mr Rush said the frontline infantry had fought their way inland by the time he and his colleagues reached the beach, but only after suffering very heavy losses.
"When we landed a signal came through that the Germans were counter-attacking, and that everyone had to get off the beach," he added.
"But in the end the Germans didn't attack, or maybe they were repelled.
"Our bigger ships further out to sea were still firing inland. The shells passing over us sounded like express trains."
Mr Rush, who was 21 at the time of the landings, was promoted to petty officer rank several months later. He was with the Royal Navy from 1942 to 1946.
He and his wife now live in East Dene, Silsden, and earlier this month they and their daughters Geraldine and Sheila were part of the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations in Normandy.
Mr Rush said: "It was absolutely brilliant. I shook hands with so many people, and I'm very glad I went."
The event in Normandy was the second major formal occasion for Mr Rush in three weeks. Last month he was invited to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace, which both he and his wife attended.
Mrs Rush said: "We even had a Rolls Royce pick us up from our hotel. We had a wonderful time."
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