An Appledore man who convoyed troops to Normandy on D-Day is the subject of a fascinating exhibition at North Devon Maritime Museum which marks 75 years since the Allied assault on Western Europe.

The story of Bernard Mead is one close to home at the museum in Appledore - his grandparents lived in Odun House which is now the tourist attraction, and he moved into the villa next door when he was 12 years old.

A member of the Local Defence Volunteers, Bernard went on to join the Royal Navy. Serving on HMS Scarborough during the Normandy campaign as well as HMS Palmares and HMS Mounsey.

Excerpts from his memoir, his photographs, letters home and his full uniform are all on display at the museum until October.

In one passage, Bernard talks of his 'intense desire' to get to Normandy for D-Day, which took place a day later than planned on June 6, 1944.

He said: "A letter home said there was only one place for me and that was here - ie Normandy - and the only leave I would take would be survivor's leave!

"I remember well our fury at the 24 hour delay, and our intense desire to get over there once the 'balloon went up'.

Bernard Mead. Picture courtest of North Devon Maritime MuseumBernard Mead. Picture courtest of North Devon Maritime Museum

"It was all very thrilling and wonderful from our vantage point; something we had been waiting for for five years and we were proud to be there."

Another describes a German attack on a convoy from Londonderry to Freetown.

He said: "On the opposite flank to us a contact was reported and the tremor and boom of underwater explosions resounded through our hull. 'Action Stations, Captain on the Bridge' and with these orders came a mighty flash, an orange glow, fire licking huge flames across her deck and a great oil tanker erupted.

"Two miles on our starboard beam, silhouetted in the night sky, ship's boats, funnel and masts falling, large objects making a short trip up into the darkness then crashing amidst the inferno.

"Screams above the noise, a great hull lifting and slithering down into the depths; the fire on the sea's surface continued and oil covered men met their death in the agonies of burning flesh."

In addition Bernard's story, the museum features footage of some of the contraptions tested in North Devon during the Second World War, and takes a look at some of the equipment used to detect submarines.

North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore.North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore.

A collection of World War II weapons and equipment is also on display until mid-June.

North Devon Maritime Museum volunteer Amanda Gratton, who helped bring Bernard's story to life in the museum, said: "Reading his memoirs and letters I felt like I was part of the family and felt like I knew him.

"One thing that struck me was when he was on guard duty in the estuary and you think, actually, they really did think the Germans might land and it was reality.

"You imagine Appledore as a sleepy place with nothing much going on, but at the beginning of the war they were planning for something that could have happened."

North Devon Maritime Museum is open daily from 10.30am to 5pm.