The Passing Of A 94-Year-Old British D-Day Veteran On Remembrance Day

British Forces during the Invasion of Normandy 6 June 1944.
British Forces during the Invasion of Normandy 6 June 1944.

British Paratrooper Ralph Jones was shot four times during the Normandy landings with one bullet remaining permanently lodged in his stomach, yet the former soldier carried on making the most of life until he passed away, aged 94, on Remembrance Sunday, 2016. Remarkably, he passed at his care home at 11 o’clock in the morning, at the exact time that people all over Britain paused for two minutes of silence in rememberance of those who have died in war.

Sadly, it was only days before Jones was to attend a surprise birthday party that would’ve reunited him with two old friends, Ray Schulk and Ken Oldham, who battled alongside him in as members of the 13th Battalion 6th Airborne Division.

They were two of the 100 expected guests at the party held at Broughton House care home for former servicemen, in Salford, where Jones had relocated last year following the move from his Altrincham home.  Also expected as guests were his American daughter-in-law, the mayor of Salford, volunteers from the home, friends, and a military band.

His division formed part of Operation Tonga that on June 6, 1944, was part of the D-Day landings.

Jones described the operation: “The moon is up and there are 90 gliders.  It’s very lovely. But the window blows out before they’re close to the ground,  The screaming wind fills the glider with sound.  Soldiers can’t talk, only mouth words at each person. The glider flips, corrects itself, then goes through a house’s brick walls, sliding approximately 300 feet. Three soldiers have disappeared. They’re under intense fire and it’s a job to leave the glider.” It was at this point the Jones was shot three times.

Ty Platten, Broughton House’s chief executive, said what defined Jones as a man was his humility and modesty, the British newspaper The Sun reported. He was a common man who did uncommon things from 1940 to 1945 for his country and fellow citizens.  He walked the earth with humility and courage, and with his death the world is a poorer place.

Ian Harvey

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