Underwater endurance: Former commando Jim Booth, 90, holds a map showing how he spearheaded Normandy landings.
Navy Lieutenant: Mr Booth when he first joined the forces
A crack team of ten
commandos who lead a secret underwater mission ahead of the D-Day
invasions are to be honoured for the first time.
ten elite troops spent five days underwater in tiny crafts as they lay
in wait on the seabed ahead before the invasion of Normandy in 1944.
Their task was to spy from their 'X-crafts' on Nazi troops before guiding Allied forces across the treacherous rocky shoreline.
Despite cramped conditions and a lack of
oxygen, the ten commandos shone beacons across the sea to complete one
of the most pivotal invasions of the Second World War.
troops from the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties
will now be honoured with a granite memorial donated by Prince Charles
on Hayling Island, Hampshire, where they were based.
of the last surviving troops, Jim Booth, 90, helped to guide Allied
landing crafts to Sword beach instead of drifting onto jagged rocks.
we were under way beneath the water, I was either on the steering wheel
or the periscope,' Jim, from Taunton, Somerset, told the Daily Mirror.
those days there was no satnav and we had to do navigation the
old-fashioned way to find our destination. We took charts, pictures,
anything we could lay our hands on. When we arrived we went up the beach
a couple of times to take bearings.'
Brave: A commando from the x-craft stands up to survey the shore as it surfaces to lead Allied troops in the D-Day invasion
The Normandy Landings on June 6 1944,
also known as D-Day, saw 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free
French troops begin an airborne assault shortly after midnight.
was followed by the war's biggest ever amphibious landing of Allied
infantry and armoured divisions at 6:30 AM with 160,000 troops. The secret mission of the two five-man crews submerged in their tiny crafts had remained virtually unknown until now.
The men could not stand in the tiny submarines, which relied on battery-power when under the water.