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Stephen Garrard

D-Day - a veteran’s story

03 June 2014

Peter Francis, from the CWGC spoke to D-Day veteran Stephen Garrard whilst on the ferry to Normandy for the D-Day 70 commemorations.

"It's my first time back but I'm really looking forward to it", Stephen Garrard told me on a packed ferry across to Caen. One of four veterans on the boat, our conversation is interrupted at regular intervals as other passengers shake Stephen's hand or ask to have their photo taken with him. He takes it all in good and modest humour - a salute every now and again for younger inquisitors.

"Before the war, I worked at Woolworths but when war was declared I tried to join the Navy. I passed all the tests but failed the medical on account of my teeth. Apparently, I didn't have enough!" We both laugh. "So I joined the Army instead!" 

After months of working in logistics, Stephen's regular requests for a formal transfer to operations were finally answered and he was sent for training near Salisbury. He volunteered for the Glider Pilot programme and spent time between formal combat training and the basics of learning to fly.

"We started in Tiger Moths before moving onto gliders - which gradually got bigger and heavier", Stephen tells me. "All the time we were also training for combat - there are no passengers in the Airborne!"

Stephen landed in the second wave on D-Day and fought throughout the campaign. He later fought at Arnhem where his co-pilot was killed. He was wounded and captured. After nine months in captivity, including a forced march from Poland to Germany, Stephen finally returned home.

Seventy years ago, while holding Pegasus Bridge, Stephen turned 22. On Saturday, he will mark his 92nd birthday at Ranville on a private visit to the CWGC cemetery there.

"I'm so grateful for the work that the Commission does. You look after my comrades so well." Stephen tells me. Surely there can be no higher praise?