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Duke Boswell and airborne operations on D-Day

Duke Boswell had one of the most dangerous jobs in the army: he was a paratrooper. He enlisted aged 16 and became a paratrooper in 1942. He carried out four combat jumps – in Sicily, Italy, Normandy and Holland. ‘Your plane might get hit before you get there. You might be killed as soon as you hit the ground,’ Duke said. ‘You had seen that many of your friends wounded or killed…You just lived from day to day. And you didn’t think about it very much.’


‘When we jumped in Sicily which was our first combat, we had 146 men in the company. A little over two years later in Germany, when the war ended we had 13. The rest had either been killed or wounded so bad that they couldn’t come back to the unit.’

Duke fought in the Korean War as well as the Second World War, and retired as a Major. ‘To me the real heroes were the ones we left behind,’ he said. ‘What they’ve missed all those years I’ve been living. They had hopes, plans and everything else. What might those people have been?’