A D-Day veteran has spoken of the heartache of watching his friends depart for Normandy – knowing many would not return.

John Divall, 94, was an engineer on the Halifax bombers which towed gliders full of parachutists to Northern France.

He worked on the planes at RAF Tarrant Rushton in Devon right up until their departure for D-Day on the evening of June 5, 1944.

Speaking from his home in London Road, Brighton, he said: “My job was to make sure everything was alright with the planes before they took them over.

“It was difficult seeing them go. We all got to know each other well and I knew many would not return.”

He added: “The gliders were heading to Caen and Pegasus Bridge in the early hours of D-Day. They had a job to do before the troops landed on the beaches.”

* Don’t miss our eight page D-Day supplement in Friday’s paper.

Inside the special edition will be a look at how The Argus reported the historic event, the heroes from Sussex who took part and the role the county played in acting as a launch pad for the invasion.