D-Day 80 The Last Veterans: Marie Scott

Marie Scott, Age 97, Women's Royal Naval Service 

Interviewed 11 July 2023

Listening to and collating the Operation Overlord messages on D-Day, Marie Scott was a switchboard operator in the tunnels of Fort Southwick in Hampshire. 

Known as Combined Operations Underground Headquarters this was the secret operations centre monitoring the invasion fleet and there was a series of rooms and tunnels deep into the cliffs looking over Portsmouth Harbour.

Mrs Scott said: "It had all the communications you could wish for to prepare for a major offensive.

"I didn’t know because I was a very lowly rank but that offensive was preparations for D-Day. 

"A couple of months before D-Day I was taken across the switchboard which had nine operators and given training on a small radio set I suppose it was.

"They referred to it as a VHF set."

On 6 June the then 17 year-old sent and received coded messages and heard the cries and chatter of soldiers on the beaches. 

She said: "On D-Day I was told I had messages to pass. They were all in code, I have no idea what they were. And then I had to get a  response from the recipient. And when they lifted the lever I was quite shocked.

"Because I suddenly realised I was in the war. They were people who were actually going onto the beaches. You could hear gunfire, machine guns, mortars, bombs, men shouting.

"It was the chaos of war. Total chaos. 

"And then I realised that the recipient I was talking to was landing on the beach. So I thought ‘Right, I have a job to do so I am going to get on with it.’

"I can honestly say that to be able to claim I was part of Operation Overlord does give me a feeling of pride.

"However small my part was I was part of it."

Marie recently returned to Fort Southwick and showed Derek Johnson around the tunnels, 80 years on from D-Day. You can see that special report on ITVX.

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