John’s promise to war veteran ignites film bid

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A Thurston archaeologist and historian has launched a campaign to help the last survivor of a landing craft sunk in World War Two to find the lost vessel.

Former Thurston Community College pupil John Henry Phillips, 25, wants to help 93-year-old D-Day veteran Patrick Thomas to find the boat so a memorial to his fallen comrades can be built.

On June 6, 1944, the Royal Navy telegraphist boarded the boat in Portsmouth and was part of the first wave on Sword Beach, providing communications for land battles and defence from enemy ships and torpedoes.

On June 25 it was sunk by an acoustic mine and 35 of the 40 men on board died.

Patrick was knocked unconscious and woke in the water, bleeding from the head, where he watched his boat sink to the bottom of the English Channel. He believes he is the only crewman still alive.

Only four of the dead were buried and no one is sure where the boat sank, so families of those who perished have no place to honour the fallen.

In 2015, John and Patrick met during an event in Normandy and became friends.

“After Patrick and I became great friends, I promised him we would find the boat and get a memorial built,” said John.

“I was working with a Canadian film company on ideas for different projects and once they heard about Patrick and the promise I made, they were all over it.”

That company, Go Button Media, has launched a crowdfunding page to raise $45,000 for the search and film costs.

“Patrick’s story is so different and it deserves to be remembered. We could wait for funding, but given Patrick’s age it feels a bit like a race against time,” added John.

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– Remembrance Sunday in pictures, pages 41, 42 and 103.