THE unimaginable and inconceivable sights that war veteran Harry Mason saw when he landed on the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day landings will be something he will never be able to forget.
But when he stepped foot on to the sand - where 70 years previous troops had landed to launch the offensive against the Germans on June 6, 1944 - for a moment he couldn’t comprehend that he was standing where it all happened.
Harry, who was born in Widnes, said: “My first sight of the beach - I just couldn’t imagine it for a second - and then suddenly it hits you that you had gone through that and survived.”
The 94-year-old was a part of the Royal Army Medical Corps after he was called up on February 1, 1940.
Dad of one Harry, who has previously served in countries across the world including Egypt and Africa, had undergone top secret training in preparation for the D-Day landings.
He said: “We weren’t told anything. We knew there was going to be an invasion but we didn’t know where.
“When we arrived at Southampton we were taken by troop carrier into a large compound.
“Once you were in this compound you couldn’t get in touch with the outside world. You were there under secrecy so that no one knew what was going on.”
Harry spent three days at the camp in Southampton before boarding a boat for Gold Beach - the code name for one of the D-Day landing beaches.
“You were apprehensive. To say that you weren’t scared to some extent it wouldn’t be right. Everybody was feeling the same because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Harry, who went on to work at Warrington Hospital for 40 years.
“When we landed on Gold Beach we went into this farmer’s fields where we erected this small marquee to take any possible casualties which, of course, there were.”
Harry joined thousands of fellow veterans and world leaders to remember the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings when he travelled to the Normandy shores with his son, Colin.
He added: “It’s difficult to describe what it feels like when you are stood there other than I felt a flood of emotion. The hair stood up on you and you wonder what happened to your pals afterwards.”