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Royal Marines Band helps veteran mark his 100th birthday

Royal Marines musicians played for Jim Booth on his 100th birthday
12 July 2021
A former submariner who served during World War 2 was treated to a personal performance from Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service to mark his 100th birthday.

Royal Navy veteran Jim Booth, from Taunton, was led to believe from his family that they were treating him to a birthday tea at nearby Bidwell House in Devon.

But unbeknown to Jim, Vicky his daughter had contacted the Naval Regional Commander who organised the musical treat by the Corps of Drums of the Commando Training Centre’s Royal Marines Band.

Jim is considered one of the unsung heroes of WW2, especially for his role as a mini-submarine commander, working with the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties – COPP. A special covert group set up before D-Day to improve invasion techniques and collect details of the beaches.

Jim joined the Royal Navy at 18 as a seaman and served throughout World War 2. Within a year of joining he’d made it to officer and for the next three years served on various warships, carrying out convoy and escort duties to places like Gibraltar and across the Atlantic. 

At 23 he transferred to the submarine service and became a submarine pilot on the Navy’s X- Craft, which were special smaller attack boats capable of getting in close to enemy targets and were towed to their operating areas by much larger vessels. Once the attack was over the mini-submarines would rendezvous with the larger ‘mother’ boats and be towed back their base.

We owe Jim and his fellow D-Day veterans so much

Royal Marines Brigadier Jock Fraser, Naval Regional Commander Wales and Western England

"In 1943, our X-Craft had been employed specifically to sink German battleships and when the prospect of invading Normandy came along,” said Jim from an earlier interview.

 

“My Group called COPP, looked at an alternative way of doing our job to recce Normandy shoreline in advance, as well as mark the beaches by shining a light on D-Day.

 

"In order to do that, normally we would have used large submarines but there was an extreme risk that Germany, which had quite good radars would picked us up by the time we reached the shore."

 

He and his crew sailed from Portsmouth to Normandy to chart where the British and Americans could safely land. On the day of the D-Day landings, Jim and his crew left their X-Craft in a fold-up canoe to shine beacons to guide the Allied landing craft safely onto the beaches.

 

"This operation was special, because Normandy was special and unique, and it was critical in winning the war."

Royal Marines Brigadier Jock Fraser, Naval Regional Commander Wales and Western England said: “It was a great privilege to join Jim’s family at his 100th birthday celebration and to introduce a surprise birthday performance from the Royal Marines Corps of Drums.

“Meeting Jim and learning more about his extraordinary story was inspiring and humbling in equal measure. We owe Jim and his fellow D-Day veterans so much.“

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