D-Day 80: Cherishing Life Stories

On the 80th anniversary of D-Day, we want to take the opportunity to honour our Normandy veterans and thank them for their service and sacrifice.

As we revisit the history of today, it’s a poignant reminder to cherish the experiences and wisdom of our previous generations for the future. How their stories should continue to be told. Their memories never lost.

Revisiting D-Day: A First-Hand Account

Our CEO, Isobel Jones, spoke with Radio Bristol yesterday about her grandfather’s own role in the Normandy landings. Major James Henderson landed on Sword Beach in the first wave of the attack, in command of the 41st Anti-Tank Battery of the 20th Anti-Tank Regiment Royal Artillery 3rd British Infantry Division.

Isobel Jones speaking to Radio Bristol 05/05/2024 about her grandfather’s account of D-Day

Finding his experience too painful to speak about, he instead wrote his account down in a memoir, describing the events of D-Day and the months that followed. One of Isobel’s most treasured possessions, this memoir details the fear and panic he faced, but also the camaraderie shared and bonds he forged with his fellow soldiers in the face of such horror.

James can be seen in the painting he had commissioned after the war – he is in the command vehicle on the front left hand side, at the back pointing.

“When dawn broke, we saw the armada stretching from horizon to horizon, our flotilla of LCT’s in line astern. Then all hell broke loose, battleships and bombers blasting the dimly visible shore ahead which appeared to be on fire from east to west. Soon shells started to explode around us. Our craft was fully in intact when we hit the beach, the skipper having ordered “emergency full-ahead together” and we rode on to the sand for a dry landing. I was able to get off the chaotic beach without difficulty and we made our way through the din, smoke and bloodshed”.

“As our generations age, let’s ensure their stories continue to be told”, says Isobel.

“But above all, we need to thank our elders – and ensure we learn from their sacrifices. So, Grandfather – a huge thank you for your service and for your life so well lived.”

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