Normandy veteran returns to the beaches

Normandy veteran returns to the beaches

Lucy Elder

Normandy veteran returns to the beaches

Veteran Stanley Swansborough returned to the beaches to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

The 89-year-old and his son, Paul Swansborough, daughter, Jane Flowers, their spouses, and his granddaughter, Emily Hickman, made the trip to France to mark the milestone.

He was also presented with the Légion d'honneur, France's highest award, in a ceremony in Caen on Thursday, June 5, for his service.

A former butcher in Upavon, Stanley joined up and served as a dispatch rider in the Royal Signal Headquarters.

He was 19 when he landed on Gold Beach a couple of weeks after D-Day.

"We had to go and assemble at the top of a hill outside Arromanches and wait for the daylight to disappear before we moved off to camp a mile of two from Bayeux," said Stanley.

"Our job was to take messages to four divisions, or battalions, even to the American army."

He drove a Jeep carrying mail and made a daily trip to Port-en-Bessin, where they would meet a military torpedo boat bringing mail to and from the war office in London.

The father-of-two was based near Bayeux until the end of August and before they moved on to Falaise Gap and into Belgium.

He married his late wife, Margaret, in 1945, and was posted to India in December that year for 18 months.

The veteran has lived in Maidenhead since 1963 and worked as an engineer for British Airways at Heathrow for 45 years.

Stanley Swansborough receives the Légion d'honneur

"It has been wonderful, really it has," said the Sandringham Road resident of the commemorative trip.

"I must have been photographed hundreds of times, as all of us were there."

The keen gardener and golfer also met the Duke of Cambridge on his visit.

He said the Duke knelt down and chatted to him and the man next to him for a couple of minutes and the Duchess of Cambridge was also there.

"My daughter-in-law was very jealous!" he joked.

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