TEENAGERS Sam O’Brien and Eve Wright thought people should know what veterans went through during the 1944 Normandy landings...
Now their film about it, starring Sam’s grandad and his comrades, is being viewed online.
With the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings coming up next month, Sam and Eve both 17, interviewed some of Southend’s surviving Normandy veterans.
Among those taking part is Sam’s grandfather, Donald Sheppard, who is chairman of the local Normandy Veterans’ Association branch.
Mr Sheppard, 94, was an engineer, attached to the 51st Highland Division during the Allied assault and is planning to travel to France next month for the official commemorations.
For he and many comrades, it may be the last time they make such a a trip, which is why Sam and Eve decided to help the branch raise £16,000 to fund it.
Sam, of Curling Tye, Basildon, a pupil at Mayflower School, Billericay, said: “I’ve been volunteering with the Normandy Veterans’ Association for a while because of grandad.
“They go on trips away and I knew they were going to Normandy in June.
“We did the documentary video and showed it at Billericay School, where Eve goes. We did a collection afterwards and had a cake sale at my school, too.
“We’ve raised £600 so far, which was far more than we expected. The support has been brilliant.”
The four-minute film shows Mr Sheppard and fellow veterans David Whiteman, 95, a medic with the 1st Ambulance Division and Ron Spencer, 90, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, recalling the landings.
Eve, of Cavell Road, Billericay, said: “We managed to make the film in about ten hours. The veterans are really inspirational.
“We wanted to make the film to raise awareness of their stories, because soon, there won’t be any of them left.”
The Allied assault on the Normandy beaches in June 1944 was one of the most vital battles of the Second World War.
Lottery funding will provide most of the money for next month’s trip, but the association still needs more to pay the travel costs of those not covered by the funding.
Mr Sheppard, who was conscripted in 1940, said he was proud of his grandson’s efforts.
He said: “I think what Sam and Eve have done is fantastic.
“We were interviewed, giving our personal opinions of Normandy and the things we had done. We had a threeminute life expectancy. I was sent away and within a few weeks I became a man.
“When Sam was quite young, he came with me to Normandy and ever since, he has come to our meetings.”
The veterans will travel to Normandy on Tuesday, June 3 ahead of the anniversary on Friday, June 6.