Wartime songs serenade D-Day veteran’s birthday

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D-Day veteran Bill Betts

IT was a treat to remember for D Day veteran Bill Betts when he celebrated his 94th birthday with a string of classic World War Two melodies sung by Georgia Milton, aged seven, last Sunday.

Bill, from Wellesbourne, found himself surrounded by friends at the surprise birthday party where he enjoyed a hearty meal and some wartime favourites like, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and “Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, and Smile, Smile, Smile” sung by Georgia.

Her father, Nick, accompanied Bill back to Gold Beach in Normandy in 2014 on the 70th anniversary of D Day. He was a soldier in the Essex Yeomanry and for his efforts was recently presented with the Légion d’Honneur – the highest decoration in France – by the French Government.

Nick and Bill became good mates over a pint ten years ago and have remained friends ever since but as Nick says, “Bill never makes a big thing about his D Day landing which saw him shot by a German sniper.”

At the age of 21, Bill was part of the first wave to hit the beach and was a radio operator accompanying a Sherman tank attacking a gun emplacement but he was shot in the leg and later ferried back to England as a result of his injury.

“We are very lucky to know Bill,” Nick said. “Like thousands and thousands of other young men they just got on with it and answered the call of their country. Georgia is soon to study World War Two at school and Bill is living history. Now that she is a Brownie she will be pushing Bill around Stratford in his wheel chair at this year’s Remembrance Sunday Parade.”

The Herald would like to hear from readers with First and Second World War memories of friends, family and relatives in advance of Armistice Day on Friday 11th November and Remembrance Sunday 13th November – contact us on news@stratford-herald.com