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
"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
"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
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
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?