D-Day veteran returns to Normandy for first time since 1944

A Second World War veteran who helped ferry troops over to Normandy is returning to the French beaches for the first time since the D-Day landings in 1944.

Matthew Toner, 93, was a vital part of the allied forces' fight against the Nazis on the beaches of France.

Mr Toner, who joined as a boy sailor and was sent over to the US to be part of the HM LST 410 landing ship which was in the first wave assault on Juno Beach, landing at around 7.30am on June 6, 1944.

Carrying Canadian soldiers on the first wave into Normandy on D-Day, the ship went on to take part in the landings at Sicily, and Salerno and Anzio in Italy.

Mr Toner told ITV News about his various expeditions abroad as part of the military, and the horrors he witnessed during the war.

"The first thing I saw... was this huge bulldog grips to let them open and we had to open them to drop the ramp to allow the troops out", he said.

Some troops drowned before even making it to shore as they were unable to withstand the weight of their equipment.

Mr Toner said: "We had a captain who believed we should get the troops in as far as he could."

"He said 'I don't like getting my troops wet, I want to give them a fighting chance instead of sinking in the sea'."

Mr Toner, who was just 18 at the time of D-Day, said his youthfulness meant he did not fear death during the charge.

"To be quite honest, I wasn't [worried]. I think when you're young you don't really see the danger."

Matthew Toner spoke to ITV News Europe Editor James Mates. Credit: ITV News

He added: "But it was silly really. We never thought it would happen to us."

The bodies strewn across the beaches of Normandy soon brought the reality of war into the forefront of Mr Toner's mind during the war.

He said: "It did hurt me a bit. I thought it could have been one of my relatives, or my brother, something like that.

"Then I realised how lucky I was to still be standing."

Matthew Toner (bottom right) with his granddad (top right). Credit: Handout

After numerous crossings of bringing more troops to Normandy, the LST 410 was severely damaged and was brought to Liverpool for repairs.

Mr Toner, who joined as a boy sailor and was sent over to the US to be part of the HM LST 410 landing ship, crossed the Atlantic on the Empress of Scotland and joined the rest of the Royal Navy detachment at Astbury Park in Philadelphia.

He eventually returned to the UK in 1947 after serving the Royal Navy for 12 years.

Ted Palmer served in Normandy on D-Day. Credit: ITV News

Widow Phyllis Palmer was also at the 75th commemorations in Normandy to spread the ashes of her husband, Ted, who served on HMS Rodney on D-Day.

The former petty officer had spoken of his excitement ahead of the 75th celebrations, but passed away in November.

Widow Phyliss chose to spread the ashes of her husband on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Credit: ITV News

Phyllis chose the important day for his ashes to be committed to the Caen Canal, near Pegasus Bridge .

Allied forces managed to capture the bridge, which proved to be a vital military objective as it prevented Nazis from flooding onto Sword Beach and reinforcing their troops on the shores of Normandy.

Phyliss told ITV News it was dying wish to be at the 75th commemorations: "His comment was I would like this, but not yet, because I want to be the last man standing, so I'm doing it for him this year,

"I am very proud of what he did."