THREE brothers have retraced the dangerous D-Day mission undertaken by their father - a former landlord of three local pubs.

Jeff Townsend from South Chard and Kevin Townsend from Tytherleigh, both also retired publicans, were joined by third brother Colin, a professor in New Zealand, for the 75th anniversary of forces landing at Normandy.

Their father, Wilf Townsend, who owned three pubs in the Chard area in the 1980s, was one of the first half dozen to land on Utah Beach at 6.30am on June 6, 1944.

On June 3, Wilf’s superior Officer became unwell so the Chard man took responsibility for convoy U2A2, made up of several flotillas and consisting of 135 landing craft packed with soldiers and equipment.

Alongside the US Subchaser 1358, an American anti-submarine ship, the crews raided Utah Beach.

It took around two hours for the beach to be taken, and the troops started to move inland at 9am.

At around 1pm, after heavy casualties on the other American landing beach, Omaha, Wilf’s unit was transferred across.

Around 2,000 men had already died and landing craft were unable to get to the beach. Here Wilf’s friend, whose surname was Jeffries, was shot dead next to him.

The oldest brother is named Jeffrey is honoured of Wilf’s colleague.

The brothers remember their Dad said: “The troops were not able to clear the beach until early evening, and even then it was touch and go whether they would hold the section, but eventually all targets were achieved.”

Jeff said: “There weren’t many light moments, but Dad recalled that when he was wading out to a landing craft stuck on sea defences, a voice called out, ‘are you going to give us a rumba or quick-step?’

“This turned out to be his old scout master, Tony Doyle, who knew Dad had led a dance band, as a drummer, before the war. Dad said his most prized possessions were mementoes of D-Day.

“We still have the semaphore flags he had with him on the beaches, secret briefing notes and orders that he possessed because of his importance to proceedings, and even a bill for three pounds seven shillings and three pence – his hotel bill (Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth) for the week leading up to D-Day.”

Jeff’s daughter and Wilf’s granddaughter is Chard North county councillor Amanda Broom.

She said: “They have had an incredible few days in France retracing Grandad’s steps.

“It is so hard to believe Grandad was only 22, taking on so much responsibility and seeing so many horrors.”