I’m proud to say that tomorrow I will be accompanying Bill Betts, a 91 year old D Day veteran, back to Normandy for the D Day 70 commemorations on friday. Bill lives in a village near me and we met in the local pub one Remembrance Day a few years ago. Bill joined the Essex Yeomanry in 1942 and trained as a radio operator on Sherman tanks. He was one of the first ashore on Gold beach on D Day where he was directing fire against German gun emplacements defending the small village of Le Hamel. Within 45 minutes of landing he was shot by a sniper hiding in a field above the beach who also killed the soldier next to him.
Bill knew the sniper would finish him off if he moved a muscle so he pretended to be dead until the village was eventually cleared. He then spent an agonizing 10 hours lying injured on the beach until he was evacuated at the end of D Day. After six weeks in hospital Bill rejoined his regiment and fought his way into Germany being one of the first people across the Rhine in a floating Sherman Duplex Drive tank. This is commonly known to the troops as a Donald Duck! Bill still has the scar on his leg and told me that 70 years on he never thought he’d see that bloody beach again. I’ll be tweeting throughout the commemorations and also posting pictures on my website.
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