Orpington veteran and brother thought to be oldest surviving D-Day siblings to have fought together

News Shopper: Ernest and John Dale Ernest and John Dale

An Oprington Navy veteran and his brother are thought to be the oldest surviving siblings of the D-Day invasion.

John and Ernest Dale, who were aboard HMS Frobisher on June 6 1944 and stationed off the notorious Sword Beach, are now 94 and 90 years old.

After sailing “through a minefield” they were tasked with firing on German positions ahead of the Normandy Landings and can remember the moments vividly.

Ernest was manning an anti-aircraft gun during the battle, while John’s job was to supply shells.

John, who lives in Tregony Road, told News Shopper: “I was with my brother and we were there first to engage any barriers.

“We had lots of firing to do and came under heavy fire. Then we were told to ‘be quiet’ as our boys went ashore.

“We had to help out anyone who got into difficulty – I remember it well.”

Looking out to where it all happened

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The two seamen even ended up going onto dry land themselves after hearing about their cousin, Charlie Bruce, who was in need of food.

Despite scenes on Sword Beach resembling “Piccadilly Circus”, remarkably they managed to find their hungry relative and give him his lunch.

John recalled: “He was stuck on the beach. It was like Piccadilly Circus with everyone rushing about. We managed to get him something to eat.

“It was scary looking back, but we were too young to be afraid really.”

John was talking to News Shopper from France having attended last week’s International Ceremony at Abbaye aux Dames in Caen.

He and Ernest thought it could be the “last chance” they would have to visit and remembered the historic day alongside their children, other veterans, and countless dignitaries.

They also received a commemorative medal which was presented by Regional Council of Lower Normandy as part of the 70th anniversary.

John’s son, Colin, said his father was “overwhelmed” by the gratitude and kindness shown to him while visiting and added at every opportunity local people said thank you for his part in liberating Europe.

Colin mentioned on one occasion a French woman asked his dad: “Looking back 70 years, what are your feelings about the day?”

To which John replied, “I'm not doing it again!"

John left the Navy after the war due to illness but went onto work for British Telecom until 1984.

The brothers were interviewed on Sword Beach

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