Posts Tagged ‘DDay’

British D-Day veteran to receive highest French accolade

March 16th, 2015

Troops on Juno Beach, Normandy, during the D Day landings (HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY)

Mr Turner will receive his award from Captain Francois Jean, the consul honoraire of France, on behalf of French president Francois Hollande.

He said: “This is a great honour that I wasn’t expecting. I know that I’ll be thinking of those who didn’t make it, my friends who didn’t come back from the Normandy beaches after D-Day.”

The French government informed the UK Ministry of Defence last year that it wanted to recognise the selfless acts of heroism displayed by surviving veterans of the Normandy landings.

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In pictures: Veterans recall their roles in the D-Day landings
Hero who led D-Day landing craft dies aged 95
In pictures: D-Day 70th anniversary

Mr Turner was born and brought up in Hilsea, Portsmouth, and at 17 he decided to go to the city’s recruiting office and sign up for the RAF, but he was too young. Instead he was taken on by the Royal Marines in January 1943.

He and three other colleagues manned a landing craft which was based at Itchenor, near Chichester. On June 4, 1944, they sailed across to Lee-on-Solent and came alongside a Canadian troop ship.

And on June 5, they sailed across the Channel in their landing craft as part of the invasion.

Mr Turner said: “It was very quiet, no one spoke. Then when we got close to the beach, the Germans started firing and it was pretty noisy. I was used to it, as my dad had been in charge of the firewatch in Portsmouth, so I’d heard air raids and gunfire anyway.

“I wasn’t frightened. I was only young, so it felt a bit like an adventure to me, even at that stage. We landed the Canadian engineers and their equipment on the beach and then backed off, so we could see what was going on. Some landing craft were hit and started sinking, some Canadians were being shot around us.

“We slept on the beach that night, and I remember a German plane coming over and flying very low. We were all firing at it. The next day, we started unloading all the ships by landing craft. Most of the boxes we unloaded seemed to be food.

“The next day, the Canadians dug a trench for the dead bodies and covered them over. But we saw a few bodies still floating on the tide, even a week after D-Day.”

Mr Turner will receive the award on Monday March 23.


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Top secret D-Day plans found hidden under hotel’s floorboards

February 10th, 2015

“They are quite detailed and specific orders to be followed by troops on the ground.”

The hotel caught fire in the 1970s, but miraculously the documents survived the huge blaze. One refers to ‘D-Day 1′ 7 July 1944 and mentioned difficulties in setting up a 10-mile telephone cable as troops advanced into France.


The Balmer Lawn Hotel as it looked during the Second World War (M&Y News)

A hotel spokesman said: “We are still in the process of evaluating the papers but some seem to include code on while others are more to do with the day-to-day organisation of the soldiers. One includes an invite to all personnel to attend a musical variety show.

“Perhaps of most interest are the documents that refer to the D-Day landings.

“One document refers to D-Day1 – June 7 1944 – and mentions difficulties in setting up a ten-mile telephone cable as troops continued advancing into northern France.”

The documents were dusty, dirty and in bad shape but still readable.


Some of the newly discovered secret documents relating to the D-Day landings (M&Y News)

Chris added: “They’re in a delicate condition and unscrunching them will have to be done very carefully. After that I imagine we’ll put them on display.”

The hotel’s military history pre-dates WWII. It was built as a private house and hunting lodge in 1800 and extended in 1850.

During the WWI it was used as a field hospital, with injured soldiers being wheeled there on luggage trolleys from Brockenhurst station.

During the 1940s conflict it transformed into an army staff college. Some of the orders for the D-Day invasion were issued from the hotel ahead of the landings on June 6 1944.

Famous people who visited the hotel during the two wars included King George V, Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower.


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D-Day ‘Great Escaper’ Bernard Jordan makes his final journey as he’s laid to rest with his wife

January 30th, 2015

Around 150 mourners gathered as Mr Jordan’s coffin, draped in the Union flag and topped with his medals and a wreath of poppies, arrived at church in front of his wife’s.

Assistant curate Father Mark Lyon, who led the service, said: “It’s a great privilege to give thanks for the lives of Bernie and Rene.

“Although Bernie made the headlines, it’s a testament to the depth of her that Rene would not allow him to make this final journey alone.

“In this we can take comfort, knowing that they make their journey into eternity together, hand in hand.”

Bernard Jordan and his wife Irene on their wedding day

Mr and Mrs Jordan, who did not have children, had been married for 59 years and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2005.

As a former mayor of Hove, the service was told Mr Jordan had been a long-serving community stalwart before his trip to last year’s D-Day commemorations.

Paying tribute, Mr Fitch said Mr Jordan “had a flare for being outrageous” and that Brighton and Hove had “lost two of its dearest souls”.

He said: “Bernie, in what were to be the last few months of his life, became a national and international figure due to his trip to France and his desire to participate in the Normandy Landings commemorations.

“What really captured the public’s imagination was not his own scheduled flit from the Pines (care home) but the character of the man – a person determined to honour and value his comrades despite his increasing age and less than perfect health.”

Mr Fitch also paid tribute to Mrs Jordan as “demure and quiet”, adding that “she was the perfect foil for her gregarious and big-hearted husband”.

Dennis Smith, the husband of one of the couple’s nieces, told the service that the Jordans were “different characters” who complemented each other.

Mr Smith said Mrs Jordan took a great interest in the Royal Family, particularly the younger generation.

And she acted as an “assertive” figure, often keeping her husband grounded during his “flights of fancy”.

He added that her death, just days after her husband, came as she “saw little prospect of a life without him”.

After the Last Post sounded, Royal British Legion standard bearers lowered their flags before mourners filed out of the church ahead of a private committal.

Mr Jordan’s disappearance to Normandy last June 5 sparked a police search that led to him being catapulted to international attention.

His whereabouts emerged only when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Royal Navy veteran Mr Jordan told reporters on his return that his aim was to remember his fallen “mates”.

Bernard Jordan

He had decided to join British veterans, most making their final pilgrimage to revisit the scene of their momentous invasion, to remember the heroes of the liberation of Europe.

Some 156,000 Allied troops landed on the five invasion beaches on June 6 1944, sparking an 80-day campaign to liberate Normandy involving three million troops and costing 250,000 lives.

Mr Jordan had hoped to return to Normandy this June. Brittany Ferries, which carried him across the Channel last summer, offered him free crossings to D-Day events for the rest of his life.

Following his death, the Royal British Legion said Mr Jordan’s decision to go to France highlighted “the spirit that epitomises the Second World War generation”.

On his 90th birthday, days after he returned from his escapade, he was inundated with more than 2,500 birthday cards from around the world.

Mr Jordan was later made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove in a special ceremony at Brighton Town Hall.

He joined an elite list to receive the honour, including Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, former Olympic champion Steve Ovett, and First World War hero Henry Allingham, who became the world’s oldest man before his death aged 113 in 2009.


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D-Day ‘Great Escaper’ Bernard Jordan’s wife dies days after him

January 10th, 2015

Brighton and Hove mayor Brian Fitch paid tribute to Mrs Jordan. He said: “They were a very close couple who will both be sadly missed.

“Irene went into the care home first after Bernie had looked after her at home, so it came as a bit of a shock that he died first.

“They had been married for more than 50 years and were a devoted couple. After he had gone, she probably gave up the will. They were religious people who are now reunited together.”

A ceremony celebrating Mr and Mrs Jordan’s lives will be held at All Saints Church in Hove on January 30 followed by a private funeral, Mr Fitch said.

A minute’s silence will be held at the next full meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council to remember the couple.

Mr Jordan’s disappearance sparked a police search last June 5 and his whereabouts emerged only when a younger veteran phoned later that night to say he had met Mr Jordan and he was safe.

Second World War veteran Mr Jordan, a former Royal Navy member and ex-mayor of Hove, told reporters on his return that his aim was to remember his fallen “mates”.

He had decided to join British veterans, most making their final pilgrimage to revisit the scene of their momentous invasion, to remember the heroes of the liberation of Europe.

Archive: June 2014

Some 156,000 Allied troops landed on the five invasion beaches on June 6 1944, sparking an 80-day campaign to liberate Normandy involving three million troops and costing 250,000 lives.

Mr Jordan had hoped to return to Normandy this June. Brittany Ferries, which carried him across the Channel last summer, offered him free crossings to D-Day events for the rest of his life after learning of his exploits.

Following his death, the Royal British Legion said Mr Jordan’s decision to go to France highlighted “the spirit that epitomises the Second World War generation”.

On his 90th birthday, days after he returned from his escapade, he was inundated with more than 2,500 birthday cards from around the world.

Mr Jordan was later made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove in a special ceremony at Brighton Town Hall.

He joined an elite list to receive the honour, including Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, former Olympic champion Steve Ovett, and First World War hero Henry Allingham, who became the world’s oldest man before his death aged 113 in 2009.


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D-Day veteran Bernard Jordan dies after lifetime of duty and adventure

January 7th, 2015

Such was the respect in which he was held following his headline-generating adventures across the Channel that on his 90th birthday, a few days after his return, he received more than 2,500 cards from well-wishers around the world.

Mr Jordan died peacefully in hospital. In a statement by Gracewell Healthcare, which runs The Pines care home in Hove, East Sussex, where Mr Jordan lived, said he would be “much missed” by his wife Irene and many friends.

Amanda Scott, managing director of Gracewell Healthcare, said: “Bernie caught the world’s imagination last year when he made his ‘surprise’ trip to France and bought a huge amount of joy to a lot of people.


Bernard Jordan on the ferry with The Candy Girls

“Bernie was always insistent that what he did during the war was nothing unusual, and only what many thousands of others did for their country.

“That may well be true, but the little bit of excitement he gave everyone last June was typical of his no-nonsense attitude to life and is how he will be remembered by thousands of people.”

A month after his escapade in France, Mr Jordan was made an honorary alderman of Brighton and Hove during a reception at Brighton Town Hall.

Asked at the reception why he travelled to Normandy, Mr Jordan, former mayor of Hove who served as a councillor for 34 years, said: “My thoughts were with my mates who had been killed.

“I was going across to pay my respects. I was a bit off course but I got there.”

He added: “Britain is a smashing country and the people are smashing, and if you have to do something a bit special, then they are worth every effort.”

Bernard with his medals (GRACEWELL HEALTHCARE)

Mr Jordan did indeed do something special for his country, as his campaign medals testified.

As a 19-year-old junior officer in the Royal Navy he had been plunged into the thick of it on June 6, 1944.

His ship was one of a flotilla of 6,939 vessels assembled by commanders as part of the Allied plan to create a bridgehead to get thousands of troops and equipment into northern France, as the first step of pushing the Nazis all the way back to Berlin.

Men like Mr Jordan played a key role in that plan, providing covering fire for the thousands of troops and tanks wading ashore in the face a hail of machine gun and shell fire from the Germans dug into concrete bunkers on the cliffs above.

Mr Jordan had already taken part in the Battle of the Atlantic, which saw British ships engaged in a cat and mouse game with German U-boats in the struggle to keep vital supply routes from the United States.


Bernard Jordan surrounded by cards and gifts received for his 90th birthday (PA)

On one occasion Mr Jordan was part of a boarding party which captured one of the Enigma coding machines used by the Germans after his forced a U-boat submarine to the surface.

Mr Jordan also served in the Italian campaign, which saw British naval ships transporting and supplying the troops fighting their way up the spine of the Peninsula, as part of the Allied effort to drive the Nazis out of occupied Europe.

Brian Fitch, the mayor of Brighton and Hove, said: “He made a major contribution, but he was also just an ordinary hard-working bloke, an electrician by trade, and a lovely character. We will really miss him.”


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Hero who led D-Day landing craft dies aged 95

August 13th, 2014

Mr Purser, who was 95 when he died, defined his life by his time in the Royal Navy, according to his family.

He joined HMS Raleigh in late 1940 for training and later HMS Vanquisher, a 1918 Destroyer, for convoy duty in the North Atlantic from Iceland to the Azores.

He was then commissioned in May 1942 and undertook training to sail landing craft capable of taking infantry ashore – vessels that would play a crucial part in the D-Day landings.

Mr Purser trained by sailing from Scotland for beaching exercises on the mud in Chichester Creeks.

Before the D-Day landings, Mr Purser also took command of Landing Craft that were used in th eSicily landings and also helped to relieve the Channel islands.

He later married Pam, who was a wren in the Royal Navy, but was only allowed to be away from his ship for half an hour.

Following the war, Mr Purser, who became an accountant, continued sailing as part of a club in Topsham, Exeter, where he lived with his family.

The couple had two children, Simon and Stephen. One of their grandsons, Mark, has also seen active duty with the army in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.


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Squatters take over British Legion building, barring D-day veterans from event

June 12th, 2014

The squatters refused to let in members of the legion and brought in mattresses, computers, games consoles and a dog to the building in Lewisham High Street in south London.

The squatters, who were mainly Polish and in their twenties, left a mess behind in the building and were eventually evicted by the Metropolitan Police following claims they had stolen gas and electricity.

Christine Rosenbaum, 67, told the Evening Standard: “They [the squatters] said they had nowhere to go and we were unable to get them out because of a change in the law.

“The windows were broken from where they had got in. They had gone through all the cupboards and the drawers to see what they could find.

“It was very messy and the kitchen was a state.

It was very upsetting because we didn’t know if we would get the building back.”

Doreen Hughes, 77, secretary of the East and Central Lewisham branch, said they hoped to raise enough money to redevelop the building and help others, including younger veterans.”

A spokeswoman for the Met Police said they spoke to the squatters and “asked them to leave.”

She added: “The rightful occupier is now back in the premises.”


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War veteran’s medals are stolen on D-Day anniversary

June 9th, 2014

The victim, a former Grenadier Guard, was at home on Friday morning when a man posing as a water company official conned his way inside, claiming he was checking the water pressure in the area.

The victim, who has not been named, served in the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War and saw action in Italy and North Africa.

He was said to be extremely upset by the theft particularly coming on the anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy.

Police are urging anyone with information to contact police via 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Officers are also warning the elderly and vulnerable to be on their guard for bogus callers.


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D-Day air show over Arromanches

June 7th, 2014

Crowds lined the beach and cliffs of Arromanches on Saturday as French and British aircraft took part in an air show to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Several British Royal Airforce (RAF) World War II planes and a French Airforce display team flew over the cliff tops of Gold Beach in Normandy to the delight of onlookers.

“You could feel the adrenaline rush. It was spectacular,” said one local resident.

Gold beach was one of the five code-named landings for the secretly planned Operation Overlord.

Others were Sword, Juno, Omaha and Utah.


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D-Day anniversary: Queen ‘stirred’ by commemorations

June 6th, 2014

On the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings the Queen travelled to the French coast with the Duke of Edinburgh, and spent the day with other heads of state honouring the actions of veterans and their fallen comrades.

Later at a banquet to mark her three-day state visit to France, the monarch described how the day’s commemorations had left Philip and herself “filled with emotions”.

She added: “With sorrow and regret, remembering the loss of so many fine young soldiers, sailors and airmen; with pride, at the sheer courage of the men who stormed those beaches, embodied in the veterans among us; and with thankfulness, knowing that today our nations are free and sovereign because allied forces liberated this continent from occupation and tyranny.

“Knitted together by common experiences of struggle, sacrifice and reconciliation, we remember those times in a way that strengthens unity and understanding between us.”

In her address at the Elysee Palace banquet staged in her honour by President Francois Hollande, the Queen, who delivered parts of her speech in French, sounded a note of caution.

She said: “Our peace and prosperity can never be taken for granted and must constantly be tended, so that never again do we have cause to build monuments to our fallen youth.”

The Queen made three “observations” during her address telling the guests “the true measure of all our actions is how long the good in them lasts”.

The monarch went on to say that “everything we do, we do for the young”.

The Queen was dressed in a full beaded bodice with sleeves in brilliant Diamante and her skirt was draped across the front in white chiffon.

She wore the Queen Mary tiara, the Queen Victoria necklace with matching earrings and the French order, red sash and badge.

The guests dined on foie gras, served with Sauternes jelly and truffle aspic, followed by Spring saddle of Sisteron lamb and garden vegetables, and for dessert was Bourbon vanilla ice cream with wild strawberries and pink Champagne sorbet.

Roblechon and Comte cheese was also served, along with a full bodied Bordeaux white wine.

Sources: Reuters/PA


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