Forget dying, D-Day soldier worried about ‘not coming up to ...

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Forget dying, D-Day soldier worried about ‘not coming up to scratch’

Lord Bramall recalls how a sense of duty drove him on when he led a platoon in the D-Day landings

Con Coughlin

As a 20-year-old lieutenant about to lead a mechanised infantry platoon ashore as part of the D-Day landings, the main thought in the mind of the young Dwin Bramall was that he would not fail in his duty.

As the US tank carrier carrying his 30-man platoon neared the Normandy beaches, he thought back to the time his teacher at Elstree School in Berkshire had admonished him for missing a tackle in a school rugby match. “He called me over at the end of the game and said: ‘Bramall, you flunked that last tackle.’ I could still hear him saying it, and thought I must not flunk it this time.”

It was the first time the young soldier had been in combat. Prior to embarkation at Southampton on June 6 1944, on the vessel that was to ferry his soldiers across the channel, his only experience of combat had been at one of the army’s battle schools, where recruits were put through a series of gruelling exercises involving live ammunition. It was at the impressionable age of 16 that Bramall, a schoolboy at Eton, had had his first introduction to the horrors of modern warfare as he watched the Battle of Britain being fought in the skies above the British countryside...

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