Suffolk soldier’s letters from D-Day give glimpse of life on the front line

Norman Scarfe, newly commissioned as a gunner subaltern in 1941 Picture: SUPPLIED BY PAUL FINCHAM

Norman Scarfe, newly commissioned as a gunner subaltern in 1941 Picture: SUPPLIED BY PAUL FINCHAM

As the nation marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day a Suffolk man has released fascinating extracts from letters penned by his civil partner in the days before and after the big invasion.

Paul Fincham and Norman Scarfe in 2007. Photo: Anna McCarthy.

Paul Fincham and Norman Scarfe in 2007. Photo: Anna McCarthy. - Credit: Archant

Norman Scarfe MBE, who was born and raised in Felixstowe, served as a gunner subaltern attached to 1st Battalion The Suffolk Regiment in the landings of June 6, 1944.

After the war he became a renowned historian and writer, creating guide books to Suffolk, Essex and Cambridge and co-founding the Suffolk Records Society.

He died in March 2017 at the age of 90.

Mr Scarfe's partner of more than 60 years, Paul Fincham, has released extracts from letters Norman sent to his parents in the days before and after the landings.

Norman Scarfe, (second right) during an inspection by Montgomery (left), then a brigadier. Picture:

Norman Scarfe, (second right) during an inspection by Montgomery (left), then a brigadier. Picture: SUPPLIED BY PAUL FINCHAM


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There was strict censorship of the soldiers letters home so as not let the German's know what the Allies had planned.

However, Mr Scarfe's letters give hints that something big was on the horizon.

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On June 2, 1944, the then 21-year-old wrote: "I know you will have been worried at my not having written these last few days but there was no point because the Army Post Office was not coping.

"I have got a woollen waistcoat and pullover with me so please don't worry about my keeping warm. I managed to do so in the north of Scotland so I certainly can here. I'm keeping mighty well.

"Don't get anxious if you occasionally don't hear for a day or two."

His family received further letters on June 3 and 4 but did not hear from him again until June 23 where he described his experience of the battle.

"There was a horrible swell on and the cordite fumes didn't help," he wrote

"We soon forgot to feel sick as the beach loomed up, flaming and noisy, hard ahead.

"I marvelled at the way our skipper spotted a gap in the mines and got us through them.

"As soon as the ramp crashed down we drove into the water like the start of the Derby - all got ashore safely.

"H-hour was at 0725 and we touched down at 0840.

"It was 1330 when I eventually left the beach - an unpleasant morning but some sort of providence preserved us and I've got four guns in action - indeed they fired ten rounds halfway through this paragraph.

"And if shelling was a bit close at times, it was still preferable to the plunging and rocking of LCT No 826 (the Landing-Craft)."

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