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Wartime wren marks D Day 75 with HMS Drake

7 June 2019
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Marking the 75th Anniversary of D Day in HMNB Devonport, Commodore Peter Coulson the Naval Base Commander invited a very special guest to lay a wreath at the Boscawen Memorial in HMS Drake, along with the youngest Naval Rating on the Base.

Suzanne Sparrow who served in the WRNS during WW2 was one of the first females to become a small boats Coxswain.

She joined in 1942 at 17 and at her interview was asked what category she would like to serve with. Suzanne said Boats Crew and passed her examination as a Coxswain.

“We were trained as seaman, learning all about knots and drill in HMS Drake,” said Suzanne.

I think it’s important to remember the part that HMS Drake and Devonport played in D Day and the young men who left here in 1944 for Normandy, and the D Day beaches in France.

Suzanne Sparrow

“It was really exciting I was working out of Flag Staff steps in the Dockyard before moving around to Saltash passage near the Tamar Bridge, where the Landing Craft base was.”

The Landing Craft base at Saltash was essential for the construction, care and maintenance of many of the small boats used on D Day, as well as training and embarkation point for the troops that sailed to Normandy.

“My job working as a Coxswain was purely wartime and in 1945 I was de-mobbed from the Royal Navy before getting married, eventually I set up the first English Language School in Plymouth, which has now been going for over 40 years.”

“I think it’s important to remember the part that HMS Drake and Devonport played in D Day and the young men who left here in 1944 for Normandy, and the D Day beaches in France.

“It is a great honour to be asked to lay this wreath and I am very proud of my wartime service as a Royal Navy Coxswain.”

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