My uncle, Eric Henry McIntyre was a sergeant in the Northamptonshire Yeomanry - Tank Regiment, he crossed on D + 6 (June 12th) in a landing craft in a tank while towing a piece of the Mulberry Harbour and with a huge barrage balloon above. Eric motored through France then into Holland and crossed the Rhine at Nijmegen in The Netherlands - the bridge too far ! Eric was finally demobilized in Holland in 1946.
Eric had no children and he kept all this from us until one day about 8 years ago when in his 90's I asked "What did you do in the war Unc" then he told me - I asked if he got any medals? - Never bothered, was his reply, so without him knowing I researched his medal entitlement and sent of for them. Telling him this while in his care home I said we wouldn't give them to him unless he wore them at the towns forth coming remembrance Sunday service, to which he agreed.
Come the day we wrapped him up warmly and with medals proudly displayed we wheeled him to the service. Abingdon being a garrison town received him well, many shook his hand and had their photo's taken with him. After the service he asked if we would push him over to the memorial so he could read some of the names, we did, what came next is with me forever.
See that one he was my best mate, see that one sat next to him at school, see the two brothers they lived around the corner, that one was in our class too he was a paratrooper, they machine gunned him before he even landed and so he went on with tears down his cheeks.
Six weeks later we sat with him as he slipped away. But that day prompted me to research those mates of Eric's, but I didn't stop with them, I researched each of the 56 names on our memorial for WW2 and wrote a book the "Fifty Six" it lists name rank and serial number, regiment, squadron or ship, where they died, how they died and where they're buried or remembered, also their next of kin in Abingdon.
By Stephen King, his nephew.