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Posted June 7th, 2024

Remembering D-Day 80 years on

ivy and reg after his return

June 6 marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day when I remembered with love my very precious Aunt and Uncle and the story they shared with me of their WW2 experiences – a story so moving it earned 4 star reviews when friends and I portrayed it at the Edinburgh Festival .

I loved visiting my aunt and uncle in Walsall and there was always fun and laughter in the house.

Aunty Ivy had vivid recall of the night before D-Day: “There were lots of planes going over and I  told my Mum – ‘there must be something really big happening tonight’.”

One day my Aunt showed me precious memorabilia from my Uncle’s harrowing time as a prisoner of war.

The trademark Paratrooper’s red beret and the regimental uniform he had travelled home in were in pristine condition – as was his army pay book nestling in the uniform pocket. The last date of pay: June 4, 1944.  Inside the pocket was a picture of my beautiful aunt which he carried with him all the time he was away.

Uncle Reg and his fellow Paras who were dropped into France included a young soldier named Private Hopkins who confided his fears. Uncle Reg reassured him, saying : “Stick with me and I’ll see you’re all right. Just keep still and no-one will know we are here.”

But something must have startled the young man and he stood up. That alerted the Germans and all were taken prisoner.

As the war drew to a close demoralised German soldiers marched the prisoners from one camp to another, not knowing what to do with them.

Uncle Reg was always play-acting as a youngster claiming he was ill – or worse – to frighten his big sister (my Mum).  So, on the long march, he feigned illness and rolled over on the ground. A German soldier kicked him into a ditch where he was later rescued.

My Aunt received a special message on her birthday from Reg which her Mum delivered to the factory, shouting across the yard: “Ivy, it’s from Reg. He’s alive and he says he still loves ya.”

When he died in his 70s.  Aunty Ivy leaned over and kissed him and said: “Goodbye Reg, there’ll never be another one like you.“

I kissed him too and thanked him for all the love he had shown to me.

— Lynn Radnedge