D-Day 75th anniversary - Scarborough couple chosen for portrait photography project

Maurice Sadler. Photo by Glyn Dewis
Maurice Sadler. Photo by Glyn Dewis

World WW2 veterans and their families are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the start of the Normandy D-Day landings.

Maurice Sadler was one of those who was involved in the campaign, the objective of which was to re-capture France and conquer Nazi Germany.

Mary Sadler in her younger years.

Mary Sadler in her younger years.

Long term Scarborough residents Mary and Maurice Sadler celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary on May 4. Mary is an ex WREN and Maurice is a Royal Marine D-Day veteran who was a crew member of LCF21 (Landing Craft Flak) during the Normandy D-Day landings and beyond.

Maurice was born in Enfield, Middlesex, on August 11, 1924, and joined the Royal Marines at Chatham Barracks, in Kent in May 1942, when he was 17.

After basic training and specialist gunnery training at Whale Island in Portsmouth, he joined the newly built Landing Craft Flak 21 at Troon in Scotland.

There followed many months of training around the British Isles before they were assigned to escort the Canadian Army as it landed on Juno Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Mary Sadler. Photo by Glyn Dewis.

Mary Sadler. Photo by Glyn Dewis.

The LCFs were designed as anti-aircraft protection vessels but their flat bottoms and shallow draft meant that they could go close inshore and

engage the German defences at close range and allow the Canadian infantry to gain a foothold.

This they did very successfully and once the beachhead was secured, LCF21 travelled further down the coast to Sword beach to support the landing of 41 Commando Royal Marines.

After the initial landings were over, LCF21 stayed off the Normandy coast for a further 16 weeks, protecting the allied supply lines from attack by German aircraft, torpedo boats and small motor boats packed with explosives which the Germans would send out each night from Dieppe.

Maurice Sadler in his service days.

Maurice Sadler in his service days.

This operation was known as the Trout Line.

At the end of the 16 weeks, LCF21 sailed back to Portsmouth. The crew were all paid off and assigned to other duties, while LCF21 herself, having sustained a fair amount of damage, was scrapped.

Maurice’s last posting was to the support staff of the Royal Marines School of Music which was at that time based in Scarborough. His billet was in what is now The Norbreck Hotel on North Bay.

Mabel Mary Sadler, nee Burke - but always known as Mary - was born in Mandalay, Burma, on January 11, 1924 and came from an Army family who settled in Coventry when her father retired in 1937.

As a 16-year-old she was working in Owen Owen, a large department store in the city centre, until the night of November 14, 1940 when the Luftwaffe destroyed it in the great blitz of the city.

She recalls the family spending the night under the dining room table but luckily the only damage to the house was some broken windows.

Mary then had a variety of jobs, none of which she really enjoyed until one day in early 1943 her best friend, Biddy, persuaded her to go with her to the Royal Navy recruiting office. Mary was accepted but her friend was turned down.

Mary’s father was very disappointed that she hadn’t followed him into the Army, but Mary said she liked the Naval uniform better.

She did her basic training at Mill Hill in north London and was then posted to HMS Robertson in Sandwich in Kent. This was a supply base for Landing Craft and where Mary and Maurice met when he was posted there after D-Day.

They were married in May 1946 while they were both still serving and have been together ever since.

In November 2015 Maurice was appointed to the rank of Chevalier in the Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur by the President of the Republic of France in recognition of his part in the Normandy campaign of 1944.

In April this year, Mary and Maurice were both very lucky and privileged to be invited by Glyn Dewis for a photoshoot and interview, supporting his ongoing project to photograph and record the many memories of WW2 veterans.

Glyn said: “I was inspired to start the War Time Portrait Project having always had a keen interest in the events of WWII, and this combined with my photography I felt was the perfect way to give something back, to take classic portraits of those who served and gave so much and to give them something that can be treasured and kept within the family.

“As corny as it may sound, this really does feel like something I was meant to do; the reason I became a photographer and on the journey. I’m meeting, photographing and become friends with such wonderful people.”

Article written by Christine Sadler, Maurice and Mary’s daughter-in-law