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"I had to change a Hurricane's engine"

Sergeant Lee Wrake, 94, was just 19-years-old when he joined the RAF as a mechanic. On 6 June 1944 – D-Day - he was responsible for transporting vehicles on to Omaha beach – a difficult task as many vehicles became waterlogged before they even reached shore.

Lee says: "When war broke out I was still a young lad and eventually I knew I had to go into Service, so I volunteered. As luck would have it I was training to be a mechanic and had a bit of knowledge about cars and engines so I was accepted in as a mechanic and it went on from there. 

Lee Wrake"I had to go to Blackpool to join. We were posted to different parts of the globe, it went on week after week and we went to different places.  

"I remember once going to the Isle of Sheppey - I met an aircraft fitter and he said, 'You and me have to take the engine out of this Hurricane and put it in another one'. He couldn't start the other one up so between us we swapped the engines over – I didn't really know what I was doing! It was a really heavy engine but we managed to get the job done. We got it fired up and got it going then they flew it down to Basingstoke, where they did a proper repair. 

"I didn't know anything at all about D-Day, we didn’t know it was coming. We had to do a course in camp waterproofing vehicles - there was a big bath and you had to drive through it and if you came out the other end still going you’d done the job properly! That was more or less our training for D-Day. 

"We went to Christchurch first; we were there for a while. When we got to the other end of Chesil beach we stopped to have some food and drink and then we put all the vehicles on this small landing barge. We had no idea whatsoever what was going on or where we were going until the time came."

This blog is in memory of all those men who did not return.

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