Search

Free 40-page supplement celebrating the Queen’s record reign in this week’s Recorder

on sale September 4

D-Day Anniversary: Hornchurch navy veteran recalls HMS Ajax experience

16:42 06 June 2014

Bill Churchill. Picture: Sandra Rowse

Bill Churchill. Picture: Sandra Rowse

COPYRIGHT S E ROWSE

On June 7 1944, navy officer Bill Churchill was relaxing in his back garden. The day before, he was watching a German aircraft drop bombs from his position on the upper deck of HMS Ajax in Normandy.

Then 18, Bill was a seaman in the communications centre on the bridge of the light cruiser that bombarded Gold Beach.

“We arrived on the second front a couple of days before and anchored off shore,” said Bill, of Hornchurch. “Just before it started the German’s bombarded us. At one time a German aircraft flew over the top of the ship and dropped a bomb right in front of it, we could have been blown out of the water.”

Bill, 92, served in the navy for seven years, and on HMS Ajax for three. He remembers vividly his view from the ship on that fateful day 70 years ago.

“It was all smoke, bullets and noise from the upper deck,” he recalls. “I was quite lucky to be there because I wouldn’t have seen anything if I wasn’t.

“We opened fire and expended all ammunition as soon as possible, then came home. I was in my back garden the next day talking to my neighbours in East Ham. I was 18 and single. It [The war] was all over for me, unfortunately everybody else had to go ahead.”

Read more:

D-Day Anniversary: Romford parachuter one of first to land in Normandy

D-Day Anniversary: Upminster veteran has ‘amazing’ reunion with shipmate

D-Day Anniversary: Battle of Arnhem could be heard in Harold Wood

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

08:13
Ghenadie Stogu, 36, was last seen leaving his home on Dunser Road, Collier Row at around 11am on Monday.

A vulnerable man who “may need hospital treatment” is missing from Collier Row.

Pawan Matabadul, 14, took his maths GCSE when he was 13 and got an A*. 
He has since taken the rest of his GCSEs and received A's in biology, chemistry, physics and statistics, B in English Literature and C in English Language. He studied/took the exams within five months.

School leavers were not the only ones celebrating their GCSE results last month, a 14-year-old boy put forward to take the exams two years early achieved a haul of A grades.

Yesterday, 17:28
Crowds gathered in South Street. Picture: @JamesManktelow

Police needed back-up during a “huge fracas” in Romford town centre in the early hours of Sunday morning, in which officers were injured.

Yesterday, 16:45
The Old Bailey

A nightclub tycoon was stabbed to death by his own son, who then bragged he “had the guts to stand up to him”, a court heard.

Most read news

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Get ready to take in the beautiful sights of London from above!

Are you always seeking unique ways to see your favourite city? This one is for you.

Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder