Ted Owens

When we got on the beach I realised it was the real thing

I am Mr Ted Owens from Pembroke Dock. At 18 years old I was called up for the service and I was sent to the Royal Marine training depot in Devon. I passed all my initial training and I was picked out to go to a school in Scotland. It was a Commando training school; at the time the hardest training school in the world. I was presented with my green beret which I wear today with pride.

Training was very severe. We were taught many things, and the main thing was how to kill. We was told all the different ideas, with your hand, with your knife, guns, everything, how to kill. And I received my special fighting knife.

I became a sniper. I fought in France, Belgium and Holland and also on the German border. I also fought on D-Day. I was on the D-Day landings and I were put onto a landing craft where we were for two days. We got out to sea. The weather was very bad. When we landed on the beach the noise was horrific. Bombshells, you name it. But we had the Scottish piper who played, and I think he was a very brave man to do so.

When we got on the beach I realised it was the real thing, with bodies lying around. And we were told to throw our tin hats over the side and wear your green beret to frighten the enemy. I aimed three or four shots at the building and a shell came over and hit the tank and I was covered in shrapnel. I was paralysed by shock. I was not unconscious, but I couldn't even move one finger. I was in the hospital for two and a half months.

We had the famous Battle of the Bulge where the Germans tried to break through. I was sent there and we went to a little village right along St Toganbosh where we done house to house clearing. A shell came over, hit the side of the wall where I was lying and a piece of shrapnel went through my windpipe. I was taken to hospital. That was the end of the war for me.

I went to the 60th anniversary of France. I met the Queen, Tony Blair, and quite a few other different dignitaries. It was a very interesting thing. The conversation I had with the Queen was she asked where I fought, and I said, "Sword Beach in France" and I said, "I was also wounded twice after, which was three times." The Queen said to me, "Oh, you went over the top a little!" And I answered, "Yes, I don't think the Germans liked my face", which she laughed over.

While I was up in France during the 60th anniversary I thought it were a good idea to lay a wreath in the German war memorial as they were soldiers same as we were. They had to do their orders. We had to forgive and forget. It finished up, I had about two, three hundred Germans around me and all wanted to shake my hand, and thought what a lovely gesture it was for me to do that, and I'm very very proud to have done it.

Culturenetcymru Big Lottery Fund National Library of Wales Imperial War Museum Privacy Statement |  Accessibility |  Copyright

© Culturenet Cymru, The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, SY23 3BU UK. Tel: (+44) 01970 632 500 | Fax: (+44) 01970 632 509