As D-Day commemorations draw to a close, we must continue to remember what British and Allied soldiers achieved on the beaches of Normandy.
That’s the view of one man whose father Eric Roy Westley was one of the many young men who landed on the French beaches in June 1944 – 70 years ago.
The former soldier, who is known as Roy and is a long-time resident of Berkhamsted, landed on Sword beach at 9.05am on D-Day as part of 3 Commando, before moving to Pegasus Bridge to hold it until reinforcements arrived.
He is the last surviving officer of 3 Commando and has never returned to landing beaches. He received the Military Cross for his actions on D-Day and later received a further Military Cross (Bar).
His son told the Gazette: “Interestingly they had been issued with bicycles so that they could move inland more swiftly.
“He was shot 3 times whilst clearing the village of Le Plein with 3 Troop number 3 Commando.
“He was captured in Italy and he and 2 other commandos escaped from the train taken them to Prisoner of War camp, they then walked down Italy and hid by day, walked by night to rejoin their unit.
“As Hitler had ordered all Commandos be shot, it was fortunate they escaped. He also saw service in North Africa and the Far East as part of the Commandos, as well as the many raids the unit undertook in other areas.
“Many never returned and many like myself often wonder how a bullet an inch or two either way would have meant my life would never have come to be either.
“It is on a day such as this that the reality of what those men achieved is brought home.”
Are you, or do you know, a veteran who attended the commemoration? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org