KEN Smith from Patcham was an infantryman at the D-Day landings. Earlier this year The Argus helped him trace relatives of his Brighton schoolfriend Derek Patrick Billett, who was killed aged 19 in Normandy.

The two friends last saw one other in 1939, before they made separate journeys to Normandy on June 6 1944. Derek was killed eight days after landing on the beaches on D-Day.

Over 6,000 vessels joined the attack, which marked the start of the campaign to free north-west Europe from the Nazis. Ken described the crossing as “hell on earth”.

Ken said he had “found closure” after Argus readers helped him track down members of Derek’s family. He now lives with his wife Gloria Smith in Yorkshire, where he is one of just two D-Day veterans still alive.

Here, the 94-year-old veteran speaks about the conflict and how it affects him today.

Everybody’s D-Day was different. I sailed from Newhaven on a rusty old coastal steamer.

Naval vessels were shooting 11-inch guns and there were ships firing rockets. It was like the sound the train makes when you’re standing on the edge of the London underground platform.

As we jumped off into the water, there were bodies strewn up the beach minus one or two limbs. It wasn’t like seeing a person in hospital. They had no chance at all. There were terrible injuries.

The average life of an infantryman was one and a half months. I survived five months before I was wounded on October 20 1944 in Holland.

I was hit by shrapnel. It just tore through the flesh like a knife through butter.

The day I found out I was going to survive was one of the happiest of my life: I knew I was going to be flown back.

D-Day was a great thing – we got 156,000 men ashore, but the actual fighting was a lot worse on the second and third day. There’s a lot more to it than D-Day.

I was drafted in at 18 and spent five years as a conscript. After the war, we were sent to Palestine where it was pretty hairy. They were fighting for independence.

It was difficult going back home. I had to give up training to be an engineer because I’d spent such a long time away.

It’s causing more trouble now. My wife wakes me because I lash out with my fists in the night – I’m dreaming of the fighting.

You’re pretty resilient at 18. But as you get older you do live in the past. The bad parts are disconcerting.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the British and German civilians who died in the bombing campaigns.

There were 30,000 people a night being killed in the cities in big fire raids. They were suffocated.

When we came back from the front, we had no support at all. We got a box with our medals, and not even a letter from the Government to say thank you.

Five years at 15 pence a day isn’t much for being at the front all the time.

I get flashbacks – more now than ever.

The thing is, you can never tell anyone what it was like. I’d never seen a body before.

You think of them covered in sheets. But on the battlefield there were body parts half up trees and half below. And you have to bury them: they belong to people you know.

I’m 94 now. Derek’s life finished at 19. There’s no way you can get away from that.

My wife finds it very painful at services when she hears what I’ve gone through.

Normandy veterans are dropping in numbers. In a short time there will be no one with first-hand information.

When I visit the cemetery in Normandy, I see the names of men I served and drank with.

The papers talk of heroes, but the real heroes are still there in Normandy after 75 years. We’ve had 75 years of life.

We’ll be out selling poppies for Remembrance Day.

You can’t think of much in two minutes. Usually, I just think of nothing.

My remembrance is every night I go to bed.