A D-Day veteran has heartbreakingly revealed that he lives alone in a tiny bungalow and says his only contact with the neighbours is when he takes the bins out.

Norman Powell, 98, is one of an estimated six remaining British men who stormed the Normandy beaches in 1944, in one of the key turning points of the Second World War.

The former engineer says he has been ‘forgotten about by society’ and has been trapped in his home in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire whilst he waiting two-and-a-half years for a vital knee operation.

Mr Powell says he finds the isolation ‘difficult’ to live with since his wife and old friends have passed, while many of family members live elsewhere and ‘have their own lives to lead’.

The vet was provided with a list of local social events by the NHS to attend for some activity and company, but says he ‘doesn’t know’ where these venues are in Nottingham and would require a taxi every time he left the house.

He added: ‘I can’t go anywhere. I don’t drive now. They’ve taken my car away from me. All I have is a battery-operated scooter and as far as I can get is Tesco. The people I speak to during the week are my daughter and, well. No-one.’ 

Norman Powell, 98, is one of an estimated six remaining British men who stormed the Normandy beaches in 1944,

Norman Powell, 98, is one of an estimated six remaining British men who stormed the Normandy beaches in 1944,

Mr Powell, originally from London, was in the engine room of a landing craft carrying Canadian and French troops and their tanks across the English channel when thousands of soldiers landed on the French beaches on June 6, 1944. 

Norman was 17 when he clambered down into the hulls of the boat and departed from the south coast shores on the evening before the attack. 

The Allies had meant to travel over the night before but an ‘almighty storm’ put paid to their plans, he says. 

Due to tidal forecasts and other factors, Mr Powell explains, there were limited days in the month on which they could perform the ambush and if the one that did go ahead had been cancelled, it would have been a number of weeks before they could attempt again.

It was around 8 or 9am in the morning when they finally reached the beach. As they approached and their ramp went down, bullets suddenly began to rain in.

Mr Powell’s vehicle was hit and a car full of provisions exploded but, through sheer luck, none of the men on it were killed. Outside it was a different story. 

Norman was 17 when he clambered down into the hulls of the boat and departed from the south coast shores on the evening before the attack on the French beaches on June 6, 1944

Norman was 17 when he clambered down into the hulls of the boat and departed from the south coast shores on the evening before the attack on the French beaches on June 6, 1944  

‘I went up on deck and started looking around,’ says Norman. ‘On the starboard side the whole sea was full of dead men. Thousands and thousands of soldiers all lying in the water floating face down.

‘The poor devils didn’t even get the chance to land. Then I looked on the port side and saw the same number over there. They’d arrived during the night so when we got there they’d been in the water for two or three hours.’

The boat was severely damaged in the onslaught and was ‘half full of water’, recalls Norman, and leaning at 30 degrees. 

After the war, Mr Powell was demobbed and went on to complete a college course, obtaining a degree in engineering in the process.

He later became a lecturer and then a senior lecturer at Hatfield Polytechnic, where he remained for more than 30 years. Originally from London, he moved to Bedford before settling in Toton two years ago. 

Less than two years off turning in a century of years on earth, the grandfather and great-grandfather still lives independently and cooks for himself. 

‘It’s kind of crept up to me,’ says Norman. ‘I can’t believe that I’m that age.’

A half-mile runner, Norman says he’s ‘always led an active life’ and also maintained a fledgling tennis career, playing astonishingly until just a few years ago and captaining the Welwyn Garden City tennis club. 

But in recent years he’s had knee trouble – and reveals to me he’s been waiting two-and-a-half years for an operation.

Painkiller tablets help slightly, but he’s been refused injections and still hasn’t had a consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon like he was promised, meaning he is stuck in the confines of the suburban village he now calls home.

For many of the younger generation, World War II is distant history. But for those like Norman who lived through it and carry the pride – and harrowing memories – of that time, it is as clear as yesterday.

British troops take positions on Sword beach during D-Day on June 6, 1944

British troops take positions on Sword beach during D-Day on June 6, 1944 

A spokesperson for the Royal British Legion, which supports ex-service personnel, said: ‘The RBL recognise that social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone, and we would encourage anyone within our Armed Forces community who may be feeling isolated and lonely to know that they can reach out – our lines are open 8am – 8pm every day.

‘The RBL’s support to the Second War World generation of veterans extends beyond commemorative periods. Some of them may have not needed to call on the RBL for help before, but for the rest of their lives the charity will be there to offer ongoing residential care, friendship, independent living advice, and dementia support to elderly members of our community.

‘Our extensive network of local branches, also provide friends and allies to the Armed Forces Family, as well as branch community support for those that might find themselves socially isolated.’

Post source: Daily mail

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