WWII veteran celebrated his 22nd birthday flying into France for the D-Day operation

On his 22nd birthday Staff Sergeant Laurie Weeden landed a glider with 30 troops on board in France under the cover of nightfall ready to fight on D-Day

The pilots and troops on board the six gliders were tasked with attacking a number of bridges in the early hours of June 6, 1944, to prevent German troops moving in to attack the British who were landing by air and sea.

Seventy-five years later and at the age of 96, Sgt Weeden paid tribute to his comrades at the memorial wall at The D-Day Story museum in Southsea and shared his story about entering France via a plane with no engine.

He said: "Machine gun fire passed just in front of us, I don’t know whether that was bad aim or the aircraft had hidden us. 

"But we came out of the cloud and the skipper of the tug plane who we were in telephone communication with the tug said there it is and down there on the left was this pond.

"The radio operator in the tug came on the blower and wished me a happy birthday".

Sgt Weeden had been in the army since 1939 and despite being only 22 at the time of D-Day he says the army made him ‘mature fairly quickly’ in order to deal with what was happening.

Although he won’t be attending the D-Day 75 celebrations in Portsmouth, Sgt Weeden is pleased his fellow troops are being honoured.

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