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Weymouth resident shares story of his father’s experiences of D-Day

Weymouth resident Ian Brooke is a volunteer at the Nothe Fort and has a very personal connection to D-Day. Here he describes his father’s role in the run up to this historic moment.

“My father, Victor, was a linesman in the Royal Corps of Signals and he landed on the Normandy beach codenamed Sword. But his extraordinary journey to get there began early in 1939 at the tender age of 19 when he joined the Territorial Army in Glossop, Derbyshire. Almost immediately he was posted to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

“Early in 1940, somewhere north of Paris, his unit was ordered south and they missed the evacuation at Dunkirk. He marched, walked, stole a bike and cadged lifts all the way to St Nazaire on the Loire estuary where troopships were to pick them up and return them to England.

“There he boarded an ex-Cunard liner, HMT Lancastria still with all his kit including greatcoat, blanket, rifle, helmet and all the webbing he was issued with because as a 19-year-old he was terrified of losing anything as the Quartermaster might make him pay for it.

“The ship was bombed and sank within 23 minutes with the loss of 5,000 lives. He was pulled from the water three hours later wearing one sock and a wristwatch.

“On June 6th 1944, at about 0600 he went back to France near Ouistreham, Normandy, carrying a Lee-Enfield Mk4 rifle and a reel of telephone cable which was eventually connected to the airborne troops at Pegasus Bridge.

“My dad survived the carnage on Sword beach and went on to stretch military telephone cables across France, Belgium, Holland and eventually Germany, only returning home in early 1946.

“And almost a year to the day, he married Sarah Agnes Chamberlain in Ashton-under-Lyne and in July 1942, they had me.

“On his 70th birthday, I took him back to that beach where he stood, this lone older figure, seeing in his mind all his old pals and trembling with emotion. It was quite a moment.”

A spokesperson from Nothe Fort said: “The Fort would not be what it is without our exceptional volunteers. We are beyond lucky to have such a dedicated community of volunteers, many of whom have long lasting connections with Weymouth and the Fort itself, such as Ian Brooke. The skills and passion they bring have allowed us to grow as a museum into an award-winning tourist attraction. 

“Our curatorial volunteers and design team have put in an incredible amount of effort to produce the new D-Day Exhibition, which will use real stories from the local community to commemorate the sacrifices made by those who fought, suffered and died for our freedom.”

Weymouth Town Council is working in partnership with the Nothe Fort to put on a commemorative D-Day 80 event on June 6th and is offering free tickets to the public. Around 70 per cent of tickets have already been allocated, but there’s still time to book your ticket today by visiting the website.

Victor Brooke, a linesman in the
Royal Corps of Signals, left
Victor and Sarah on their
wedding day, left
Ian Brooke pictured