On April 28, 1944, Charles B. Harrisson survived what the BBC later called the Slapton Sands Disaster.

More than 700 military men died off Devon in southern England when German torpedo boats attacked vessels training for the June 6 D-Day invasion of Normandy.

His landing craft escaped, Mr. Harrisson wrote in autobiographical notes, "only by the fact of a too low aimed torpedo."

Mr. Harrisson, 87, of Lansdowne, a former insurance executive, died Monday, May 9, of congestive heart failure at Harlee Manor, an assisted-living residence in Springfield, Delaware County.

Mr. Harrisson wrote that after graduating from Lansdowne High School in 1942, he was in one of the first five waves of D-Day landings at Utah Beach with the First Engineer Special Brigade.

He earned battle stars for his work not only in Normandy, he wrote, but also elsewhere in northern France and in the Rhineland.

A 1951 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he spent much of his career as a reinsurance financial manager with Insurance Co. of North America, which merged into Cigna in 1982. He retired in 1986.

A spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association said that from 1959 to 1965 Mr. Harrisson was a basketball referee in the district covering Berks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties.

A member of the Lansdowne Fire Company and the Lansdowne Fire Police, he received the 1999 President's Award from the Delaware County Fire Police Association.

Mr. Harrisson wrote that he was president of three organizations, the Lansdowne Boys Club, the Lansdowne Allied Youth Council, and the Eastern Delaware County Boys Athletic Conference.

He was a book reviewer for the Lansdowne Public Library and a member of Descendants of Whaling Masters in New Bedford, Mass.

Mr. Harrisson is survived by a brother, Frank, and nieces and nephews.

A visitation was set from 10 a.m. Thursday, May 19, at Doyle-Stonelake Funeral Home, 83 E. Baltimore Ave., Lansdowne, before an 11 a.m. funeral there.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.