D-Day hero, 90, brings veterans to tears with ballad about Normandy
D-Day hero, 90, brings veterans to tears with ballad about Normandy which beat Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber to No1 spot on Amazon chart
- Jim Radford, from Lewisham, has a hit with his ballad The Shores Of Normandy
- He is the youngest D-Day veteran and was inspired by WWII to write the song
- Track raises cash for the Normandy Memorial Trust’s monument to fallen troops
- He appeared alongside other veterans in Normandy today for commemorations
A D-Day hero brought veterans to tears today with his chart-topping ballad about Normandy, which he performed to thousands on the beaches where the conflict took place.
Jim Radford’s haunting ballad The Shores Of Normandy – featuring lyrics about men who ‘stormed the gates of hell’ and ‘died upon that blood-soaked sand’ – was released only a week ago.
But it’s already edged ahead of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s joint hit I Don’t Care in the Amazon music chart, regarded as a barometer of what could be a future official No 1.
And today he performed the song in front of hundreds of veterans at Arromanches, where British troops stormed Gold Beach 75 years ago today – on June 6, 1944. His performance was so moving, it brought veterans to tears.
Jim Radford’s haunting ballad The Shores Of Normandy – featuring lyrics about men who ‘stormed the gates of hell’ and ‘died upon that blood-soaked sand’ – was released only a week ago
Today Mr Radford performed the song in front of hundreds of veterans at Arromanches, where British troops stormed Gold Beach 75 years ago today – on June 6, 1944. His performance was so moving, it brought veterans to tears (pictured)
Jim Radford is pictured on the right, alongside other veterans who travelled to Normandy for the commemorations in Arromanches
The RAF’s Red Arrows fly over the beach at Arromanches, in Normandy, northern France, during a ceremony to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings
Mr Radford, the youngest known D-Day veteran, was inspired to write the folk song about his experiences as a 15-year-old galley boy on a ship that fateful day.
His newly recorded version is raising funds for the Normandy Memorial Trust’s monument to the 22,442 men and women serving under British command who fell in the Battle of Normandy.
He said of the chart success: ‘I’m delighted. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be No 1 in any list. The more copies we sell, the more money we raise to build this memorial.
‘We want people to remember all those good men. They deserve to be honoured and remembered. The thing that I remember most is seeing [the bodies of] those lads floating in the water – the ones who had to run up the beaches into the machine gun fire and never made it. I can still see their faces now.’
Mr Radford as a young sailor, and the Empire Larch, the boat he sailed on when the Allies stormed northern France on D-Day
Mr Radford, who was born in Hull and now lives in Lewisham, south-east London, served as a galley boy on Merchant Navy tug Empire Larch. He is pictured performing in front of veterans in Normandy today
Mr Radford, who was born in Hull and now lives in Lewisham, south-east London, served as a galley boy on Merchant Navy tug Empire Larch.
It helped to build the Mulberry harbour off Arromanches at Gold Beach which allowed the Royal Navy to transport troops, vehicles and supplies.
Mr Radford had left school earlier in 1944 and, despite his older brother Jack being killed aged 18 when his ship was torpedoed, he was determined to go to sea.
The Merchant Navy was not officially allowed to sign up under-16s, but the young Jim found a towing company which ‘seemingly didn’t care about my age’.
D-Day veteran Jim Radford on the deck of HMS Belfast
He recalled: ‘Gold Beach was a terrible sight. I have never seen so many bodies before or since.’
Father-of-three Mr Radford, who went on to join the Royal Navy and became a peace campaigner, has been performing his song for years.
Thousands lined the streets of Arromanches today – far more than at the 70th D-Day anniversary events there in 2014 – for the commemorations.
Some 300, largely British, veterans, many approaching 100 years of age, made the pilgrimage to the commemorations in the main square to remember their fallen comrades.
Wreaths were laid, a minute’s silence held and veterans linked arms and joined in singing a rendition of the war-time anthem We’ll Meet Again, before watching an RAF flypast.
Prime Minister Theresa May, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall attended special services of remembrance with veterans at Bayeux Cathedral and the nearby Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
In the UK, the Duke of Cambridge delivered the D-Day address made by his great-grandfather George VI, and met former servicemen and women at a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
The Red Arrows perform a fly past following a commemoration service on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, over the beaches of Arromanches Les Bains in Normandy
Thousands have lined the streets of Arromanches in Normandy today to welcome British veterans who stormed into the town 75 years ago
Meanwhile in London, the Duke of Sussex praised the efforts of the six D-Day veterans being cared for at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, saying he was honoured to be in their presence.
D-Day on June 6 1944 was the largest amphibious invasion in history, and ultimately led to the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.
More than 156,000 troops were launched by sea and air, and 4,400 were confirmed dead by sunset.
The Shores Of Normandy can be downloaded from www.normandymemorialtrust.org or from online music stores.
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