Erskine Veteran Robert Johnston (96) remembers vividly the part he played in the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944 – D Day. Robert, who now lives in the Erskine Glasgow home, was gunner on HMS Scylla, when he headed to France.
On D Day HMS Scylla, a Dido-class cruiser of the Royal Navy, was the flagship for the Eastern Task Group providing fire support for the British beaches of Gold, Sword and Juno. At the young age of 20 taking part in what was the largest seaborne invasion in history didn’t faze the young man in slightest. “No I wasn’t frightened I was only 20”.
The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front and many young servicemen like Robert played their part and risked their lives for the freedom of their country.
Today from the peace and tranquillity of his Erskine home Robert looks back on the start of the Allied invasion saying: ‘We were protecting the open boats as they were being targeted by German Gunners. We were told Scylla, see what you can do there, we went along and we knocked them out and the big cheers come up’. Robert said: “I felt no emotion as I fired the shells and they reached their targets. There were so many lost there was no time for emotion’.
Erskine Chief Executive Ian Cumming said: ‘D Day is a very significant date as we remember those like Robert, who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we might live in freedom. Erskine is honoured to care for our country’s Veterans, some of whom, like Robert, saw active service in the Second World War and who fought for our Nation’s very survival. On anniversaries such as D Day, we remember all those who bravely gave their lives, and we honour their memory by caring for those that did return.