Photograph of Walter Uden, date unknown.Walter Uden
Walter Uden in uniform. Date unknown.Walter Uden
Walter Uden in uniform, standing in front of a truck. Date unknown.Walter Uden
Walter Uden at a remembrance ceremony, date unknown.Walter Uden
"I turned around and gave him the light for his cigarette, and there was some ping, and he was gone… He was dead, and if he… If he moved too quickly, it would have been me. So it was dangerous all the time you were over there. "
I was in […] operations on the beaches in Normandy. We were the first ones to go in. We were the beach group, and our job was to get the beaches cleared off, make sure all the vehicles were all taken off, and then the boats were free to go back into the ocean. We were being sniped at all the time from the Germans, so we had to be careful how we do it. I was on one condition where a tank came out of the water, and as he came up to me, I was on the sand hill, and as he came up to me, a head popped out of the tank and this fellow, he was a sergeant, he said, “Can you give me a light for my cigarette?” He said, “We're not allowed to smoke in the tank.” So I lit… I turned around and gave him the light for his cigarette, and there was some ping, and he was gone… He was dead, and if he… If he moved too quickly, it would have been me. So it was dangerous all the time you were over there. But we expected something to happen because if everybody… There was bodies going everywhere.
There was always danger. We were being shelled and bombed, and everything, so we… We just lived a life that says… What we used to say: here today, gone tomorrow, and that was it. When I landed on the beach on D-day, my wife was expecting a baby, and I landed in 1944 on the beach, and my baby was born on 13 July the same year. So I had to contact up with my wife nearly all the time. We were on our way to… Our unit was disbanded, and we were on another unit, a beach group going to Burma and then it dropped out, and [the atomic] bombs dropped on Japan, so they turned the boat back and sent us back to Germany. My wife was… In a way she was wounded, but not by… she was working in a munitions factory and they used to do detonators on it, and they're always exploding, and she was a nervous wreck regarding that, she couldn’t… We had to take very good care of her, so this all happened during the war, so… But we were married for 56 years.