‘He was not only a war hero, he was our hero.’ Family pays tribute to Upminster D-Day veteran
PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 April 2020
“He was not only a war hero, he was our hero”. A family has paid tribute to a D-Day veteran from Upminster who has passed away.
Ron Wilson, 95, served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and took part in the D-Day landings on June 6 1944 when the Allied troops invaded France.
He passed away at his home in Upminster on Monday March 30 after he had suffered a stroke.
Ron met his future wife Eileen when they were stationed at HMS Dragonfly in Hayling Island, near Portsmouth.
After the war, they lived in Plaistow, Debden and South Ockendon before settling in Upminster, where he spent the remainder of his life and was a self-employed carpenter.
They had three children, Lorraine, Diane and David, while he had five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Lorraine Bennett, his eldest daughter, described him as a family orientated man.
She said: “He would do anything for anyone. He was loved by everyone. I don’t think I have ever heard a bad word said against my dad. The love that we got from him and my mum bound us all together as a family and taught us a lot of values. You can’t buy love in this world but my dad had it in abundance.
“He never, ever complained. He always just thanked everybody for what they had done.”
The Recorder spoke to Ron last year after he was invited back along with 300 other veterans to Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the operation.
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While there, Ron returned to Sword Beach, one of five strategic landing sites on D-Day.
He was on board the Landing Craft Tank LCT-571 and he rescued a soldier who had fallen into the sea despite his captain threatening to shoot him.
Ron told us in 2019: “I can still hear him shouting, ‘Wilson! Get back on the doors!’, but I had to tell him ‘give me a minute, give me a minute!’”.
He then managed to haul the teenage soldier back on board.
During last year’s visit, he also met Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as well as then prime minister Theresa May.
Lorraine said: “It was the best thing that he could have done. Going to France helped. It gave him so many bad memories of the war but also happy memories. Meeting old veterans and going back and how they were treated by everybody in France was fabulous.”
Ron’s funeral will be held next week but his granddaughter Hannah Jago said they will be restricted to only having four people attend due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Lorraine admitted it had been “really difficult” and thought at least a hundred people would have turned out to pay their respects to Ron but they are planning something to mark his life once the Covid-19 crisis has passed.
Hannah said Ron’s death had left a “huge, empty hole” in their family.
“He was not only a war hero, he was our hero who had the most infectious smile that would light up an entire room.
“We will make sure he lives on in memories forever.”
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