D-DAY veteran and war hero Edward Gaines has passed away aged 98.
Edward, known as Eddie, helped land troops on the beach in Normandy in preparation for the allied invasion during the Second World War.
He died at his home in Poole, Dorset on April 21.
Born in 1925, he joined the Royal Navy and served on Omaha beach until Christmas Eve 1944.
He spoke of the US military casualties he witnessed during the landings there, and said he saw American soldiers praying.
He said: “I was off Omaha Beach on D-Day and 3,000 men died there before noon alone.”
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He said in an interview: "The ramp would drop onto half-submerged bodies, it was quite something, quite something. I had nightmares for years afterwards."
This Omaha beach disaster was the backdrop for the start of Stephen Spielberg's 'Saving Private Ryan'.
Eddie was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion D’Honneur in recognition of his part in the liberation of France.
He said: “I feel that we both are receiving it on behalf of all of those who didn’t make it back.
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Tributes from his friends and family have been made – including from his grandson, who wrote: "Rest easy sailor, your duty is done".
One social media user said: "I remember his laughter when he talked about taking a break before D-Day and having a snooze on crates of TNT, or the deep sadness that filled his eyes when talking about the landings at Omaha."
Eddie made a visit back to Normandy in 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
At the time, he said: "This voyage has been incredible. Yes, it's brought back painful memories and we've cried a lot".
Later on in his life, Eddie suffered from age-related macular degeneration and started to lose his sight.
He received support from Blind Veterans UK and became a prominent ambassador.
He flew the charity's flag outside his house towards the end of his life, and was featured on tv screens and posters in part of their campaign.
His four children and 16 grandchildren have set up a tribute page to honour Eddie.
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