Appeal Brings A Respectful Crowd Out To Honor A British D-Day Hero

Omaha beach - Invasion of Normandy. Reinforcements of men and equipment moving inland.
Omaha beach - Invasion of Normandy. Reinforcements of men and equipment moving inland.

Many of those who attended the funeral of Second World War veteran Douglas Oswald Shallcross, 92, didn’t know him or his name perhaps only days before.

There was concern that only five people would attend the service of the man who stormed the beaches at Normandy, was run over by a tank, and survived an exploding grenade that killed every member of his patrol.

But after an appeal by a group of veterans, hundreds attended the service in Highfield Cemetery in Romiley to remember the former Reconnaissance Corps soldier.

His daughter, Anne Holloway, said he would’ve appreciated the work by well-wishers and former servicemen, and she was touched by the lovely service. His war memories were the last to disappear so she is sure he would’ve been appreciative.

Shallcross, born and raised in Marple, observed his 21st birthday while under fire in France with a beer his sergeant snuck to him.

The Manchester Evening News wrote that he was fearful of drowning while storming the beach because he couldn’t swim. And a colleague mistakenly shot him in the forehead leaving a cross-shaped scar visible throughout his lifetime.

At the war’s end, he hesitated to talk about the war which had taken so many friends’ lives. His demobilization money was spent installing electric lights at his mother’s house, and he started working at a steelworks company.

Shallcross’s granddaughter, Victoria Holloway, said it was stupendous so many people attended the funeral when only a small number of family members were anticipated.

Catherine O’Brien attended with her husband after reading about the appeal by veterans.

She said he fought for them, and they thought he couldn’t be buried alone. It’s only a few hours taken from the day so it isn’t a great sacrifice, Mirror reported.

A former serviceman, Simon Walker served in Bosnia, Canada, Gibraltar, and Northern Ireland, said he had to pay his respects to the generation and Shallcross for all they had done.

Andy Cooke, a veteran member of the Household Cavalry from 1978 to 1985, who assisted in the campaign, said no veteran should leave without respect being paid.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE