On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 troops were on ships and planes heading to the coast of Normandy to liberate France from Hitler’s grasp. Thousands never made it off the beaches. But it was a success, now known as the beginning of the end of World War II.
On this day, 75 years ago, more than 150,000 Allied troops were on ships and planes heading for the coast of Normandy to liberate France from fascism.
We sat down with six New England veterans from The Greatest Generation who shared their stories from the war. Many men didn't want to talk about it when they came home. In fact, for some of the men we interviewed, it took decades for them to open up. The memories were just too painful.
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IMAGES: New England Veterans Share Their WWII Experiences
Now, they're sharing their stories of triumph and horror. The sad reality is that memories of the war are disappearing with hundreds of WWII veterans dying every day. The youngest veteran we spoke with is 94. The oldest is 102. They were young men in 1944, eager to take out Hitler. They didn't know if they would be coming home, but they had a job to do and they did it.
Below, you'll find additional excerpts from our interviews that were not included in the documentary:
Arthur Rose, 100, of Boston, reads a letter he wrote home to his family following the D-Day invasion.
Ashley Bryan, 96, of Isleford, Maine, talks about how black soldiers were treated in Glasgow, and remembers how reading a book while operating heavy machinery can be dangerous.
Charlie Sanderson, 94, of Lunenberg, Massachusetts, talks about trading a cherished keepsake for his favorite food while serving in World War II.
Charlie Sanderson talks about winter in Europe during World War II.
Fern Frechette, 98, of Leominster, Massachusetts, describes how a trip to find booze resulted in his first encounter with German soldiers.
“It was awful to see.” Fern Frechette is overcome with emotion as he recalls liberating the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Graham Alvord, 102, of Kittery Point, Maine, paints a picture of what his ship was like before and after the D-Day invasion.
Santo DiSalvo, 96, of Leominster, Massachusetts, talks about saving another soldier’s life and how that soldier’s family tracked him down decades later.
Former New England Patriots star Rob Ninkovich talks about the sacrifices made on D-Day and how grateful he is to veterans.
Kenneth Rendell, founder of The International Museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts, talks about what was at stake during the D-Day invasion.