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Last Updated: Friday, 8 July, 2005, 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK
War friends reunited for parade
Bert Dawe and Emrys Davies
Bert Dawe and Emrys Davies have been friends for over 60 years
Thousands of people in Wales are preparing to commemorate the end of World War II, 60 years ago this weekend.

Among them are two veterans, who are celebrating a 62-year friendship which began when they left Wales to take part in the D-day landings.

They met on the platform of Bargoed railway station.

On Sunday Emrys Davies and Bert Dawe will march side by side again in a tribute parade in Cardiff city centre.

In 1943, aged 18, they were full of youthful expectation when they left the security of their homes in the south Wales valleys as members of the Welch Regiment.

Mr Davies and Mr Dawe - now in their 70s - were new recruits, joining up for what were to be the last days of World War II.

They had been members of the Home Guard, so were already in uniform as they set off for a training camp in Kent.

At Herne Bay they volunteered as infantry signalman, hoping for an easy life. They were to be disappointed.

Normandy landings
The D-day landings took place in June 1944

"We thought it would be a good skive," said Mr Davies.

"We didn't realise that when we went across to Normandy we were prime targets, because the Germans were knocking-off officers, NCOs and signallers."

By the time the two saw active service it was June 1944 and thousands of allied troops had started advancing on Germany.

But on the beaches of northern France, the full horror of the war became clear.

"There were terrible, terrible sights, " said Mr Dawe. "Our mates being killed - blown to pieces.

"People say you want to forget that - but how can you forget?!"

But they were not daunted by the deaths of those around them.

"To us, at that age, we were immortal," said Mr Davies " We thought, 'it can't happen to us'."

But death came very close to Mr Dawe, when he and his sergeant came under fire.

"A lot of shell fragments went through him and into me," he said.

"I was trying to comfort him, but he died in my arms."

Regimental mascot
Mr Davies and Mr Dawe used to carry this lucky saucepan with them

Mr Davies marched on to Hamburg, eventually leaving the army in 1947.

The two young men carried a mascot - a saucepan - with them on their travels across Europe. But after the war, the little pan from Llanelli went missing.

It eventually turned up at a military base in Cardiff.

"It was found in the basement of Maindee barracks, amongst a lot of other discarded silverware." said Mr Davies.

"People didn't know the importance of it.

"But I want this saucepan known to people from all over the world, because this is the famous 'sospan fach'."

On Sunday the two veterans will march together again, parading through the streets of Cardiff to mark the end of World War II, 60 years ago.


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