Local veteran honoured for D-Day landing

Jo Swinson presenting the Normandy Bar to William Ward outside his home in Torrance.

Jo presented a local veteran with a prestigious award this week for his role in the D-Day landings.

Torrance resident William Ward was serving with 1st Battalion King’s own Scottish Borderers when he landed on Sword Beach, Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

Mr Ward, now 85, has been awarded a Normandy Bar medal by the Normandy Council, for his part in the invasion which paved the way for the liberation of Europe.

Commenting, William Ward said:

“We landed on D-Day with folding up bicycles for a quick advance from the beaches. The objective was to take the city of Caen, but we were up against the 21st Panzer Division, who were the crème of German army, and 12th SS Hitler Youth.”

“The city didn’t fall until a month later, on 9th July. I was approached by a man who was pulling my arm and wanted to show me something, but I didn’t know who he was. I followed him into a barn and there were two dead Germans there whom he claimed he had shot. I realised then that he was a Macquis, a member of the underground French resistance.

“Then he took me to a well-dug underground shelter for the people of Caen. The Allies had bombed the city the day before, and two bombs had slid down the stairway and killed everyone in the shelter. It was unbelievable.”

Commenting, Jo said:

“It was an honour to present Mr Ward with his medal on behalf of the Normandy Council and it was fascinating to hear all about his experiences – I understand he is writing a book about it which will help to ensure future generations can remember the sacrifices made to protect our freedom. The extraordinary courage shown by Mr Ward and all those who took part in the Normandy landings must never be forgotten. Their actions in June 1944 were vital to the liberation of France, and later the rest of Europe, and the defeat of the Nazis.”

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