COMMUNITIES in Tynedale will join those across the UK and France in marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day today.

Among those who will pause to reflect on the events of the Allied forces’ invasion of Normandy during the Second World War, on June 6, 1944, is Ovingham’s Marcus Gatenby, who played his part in the operation.

94-year-old Mr Gatenby joined the Royal Navy at just 17 and, after training in various types of coding, he became a signalman on a trawler which was converted to a minesweeper.

On the night before D-Day, he found himself setting off across the English Channel to France.

Fleet minesweepers would ‘‘sweep’’ anchored mines by bringing them to float to the surface where they could be destroyed by gunfire.

On that night, Mr Gatenby was on the bridge of his ship, receiving signals from the fleet minesweepers when mines had been destroyed.

“They would send a signal back to me to let me know. I couldn’t flash back or we would give away our position to the Germans,” he explained.

The crew on his boat were laying buoys to mark out areas which had been swept.

Mr Gatenby is one of those who will gather at Prudhoe’s St Mary Magdalene Church this morning for the 10am service, marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which will include the reading of a poem.

“I think it’s important to mark these anniversaries – we don’t want people to forget it,” said Mr Gatenby.

“Whether it will help stop another war I don’t know, but I think it’s important.”

Speaking of his experience he said: “At 18 you feel nothing is going to happen to you. I look back and think I was jolly lucky.”

Senior politicians and members of the Royal family, as well as hundreds of veterans, will attend ceremonies today to mark what is now known to be one of the main turning points of the Second World War.

Following their church service today, members of the Prudhoe and District Royal British Legion will also lay wreaths at the Glade in the town on Saturday, to commemorate the landings in which 4,400 allied troops died.

A remembrance service and wreath laying will also be held in St Andrew’s Church, in Corbridge, on Sunday from 11.30am. Meanwhile, members of the Hexham RAFA Club laid a wreath at the town’s cenotaph at 6.30am on Thursday.