'The daunting noise it made': Witness recalls D-Day carnage

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By Stephanie Burnett  & Sinead Barry  with Reuters
'The daunting noise it made': Witness recalls D-Day carnage

Yves Faucon was just 12 years old when he witnessed the effects of what would become the largest amphibious assault ever launched.

Faucon was living in the French village of Tilly-sur-Seulles when more than 150,000 Allied troops stormed the shores of the Normandy region to drive back Nazi forces eastward 75 years ago on 6 June. The school pupil, who lived 20 kilometres from the coast, could hear the barrage as the Allied offensive powered forward — forcing his family to flee to nearby towns.

'A daunting noise'

Ahead of the 75th-anniversary commemorations of D-Day, Faucon recalled the carnage he witnessed.

"It was like fireworks, tracer rounds, green, red, blue, all the colours, it was incredible, we were amazed to see that, never had we seen such fireworks," he said.

"We could hear the noise made by the weapons on that occasion. This wasn't the case on the morning of June 6 (on D-Day) where we saw glowing in the morning skies towards the direction of the sea. We had no idea of the armada which was landing on our shores."

Archive images of Tilly-sur-Seulles, France, in 1944.

But liberating Tilly-sur-Seulles from the grip of the Nazi regime would take nearly three weeks, as the British and Nazi forces battled for the area. By the end of the fighting, Faucon's hometown was destroyed — and in many ways, so was Faucon's innocence.

"I came across a corpse on August 1st. The day of my liberation I saw the body of a dead German who died in the night, he had just died and his chest was split open, I put my elbow in his chest, my elbow was all bloody and my mother thought that I'd been wounded although I was fine."

"Also, I remember watching a dead soldier on the road and two tank columns were advancing and driving over the corpse, it was quite something... the noise it made, a daunting noise."

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Video editor • Christophe Pitiot