HARROWING tales of fighting behind enemy lines were relived by two veterans of 30AU during Saturday’s freedom celebrations.
Former commandos Bill Thomas and Harry Kelly were reunited once again to join the festivities in the town, organised to mark their heroism during the second world war.
Both men were part of the elite unit and were sent on several secretive missions into Germany during the war, often for weeks on end, with just their wits and fellow comrades to rely on.
Harry, 88, of Weybridge, in Surrey, said on many occasions he would be called to drive the truck, packed with 30AU troops, through Nazi-held Germany, and into the very heart of the Third Reich.
“We weren’t nervous about the missions,” he admitted. “It wasn’t like the trenches in the first world war where you came in contact with enemy troops often.
“There were vast areas where there weren’t any troops and you could slip through the net.
“We were given our instructions and we just carried them out.
“But sometimes we encountered retreating Germans and they would just let rip at you.
“They were doing it to delay you. So you would just have to deal with the situation.
“It was pretty hair-raising at times.”
Towards the end of the war, Harry and the commandos were tasked with seizing secretive German technology.
He said his unit, unbeknown to the Allies, were only six miles away when American and Russian forces linked at River Elbe, in 1945.
“This was a secretive operation and no one know we were there,” he said.
The pair took part in the celebrations in Littlehampton and received a salute from their modern-day counterparts during the march.
Bill, 89, of East Street, Littlehampton, said: “The town’s spirit hasn’t changed much since the war.
“The support for the troops then was fantastic and it was nice to see so many people coming out to support the marines today.
“I’m very proud of everyone. The marines did a wonderful job – they couldn’t have done it any better.”