As the doors to the landing craft opened on to Sword Beach at Normandy, the fresh-faced 18-year-old “country boy” Private James Glennie stepped out.
Looking down, the first thing Jim spotted in the water were the floating remains of another soldier.
It was the first glimpse the newly-commissioned soldier had seen on a field of battle – his first exposure to the horrors of war and the violence people can inflict upon each other.
Almost 700 British soldiers would die on Sword Beach that day, considered to be a comparatively small loss of life on a day where thousands were killed and tens of thousands wounded.
It was someone he didn’t recognise, he didn’t know, and hasn’t heard anything about since – but to this day, the now 93-year-old can’t shake the image.
He said: “That’s the one thing I can’t forget. I can still see him floating through the water.
“I don’t know who he was, but I think he may have been a commander, his uniform was different from the rest of ours, but there was no way to know for sure.
“I haven’t been able to shake the image of that man since that day.”
Pte Glennie was a long way from his native Turriff, and from the beaches at Blackdog where he had taken part in training for the invasion that would eventually push the Germans back to Berlin, end the immediate threat of fascism in Europe and win a war which had been raging for five long years.
As part of the offensive, Jim and his unit headed up the beach, before engaging in house-to-house fighting in a bid to rid the French coast of the German troops.
Despite a number of training exercises at Blackdog and on the beaches of Orkney in preparation, Jim and his comrades had no clue what to expect when they reached the battlefield.
He said: “It didn’t really prepare you for what was going on but I don’t think there was anything that could prepare us for it at all.”
Just weeks after the landings, after taking Sword Beach and moving deeper inland, Jim was wounded after being shot by a German adversary twice in the arm.
He said: “I saw some of them coming down the road and I moved out from where I was to get a better shot at him, but I didn’t notice they had surrounded us. One of the German troops spotted me and shot me.
“I spent four weeks in a French hospital which was controlled by the Germans, before being moved to a camp in Germany.”
Despite being considered “the enemy”, Jim said he was treated reasonably well by his fellow injured soldiers, both from the British and German side.
He said: “We were all mixed in together and they were nice enough really.
“There was an SS guy who would come around sometimes, and the Germans wouldn’t speak to us when he was there.”
One of the German soldiers even tried to extend the hand of friendship to Jim, when he dubbed him his “comrade” in front of several other soldiers from his side.
Jim said: “It took a lot for him to do that and it meant a lot. He would never have done it had the SS guy been there.”
Jim also had his first near-brush with death in the weeks immediately after the landings, after seeing his corporal – who was standing just feet from him – shot in the face by a German soldier.
He said: “I was in shock, it gave me a real fright.
“I ran back down the hill and called for a stretcher and he was taken away.”
The corporal in question survived the ordeal, and was reunited with Jim just more than a year later in Bridge of Don, while the private was waiting in the “pay queue” to receive his wages.