VIDEO: D-Day vet Stanley’s 90th joy

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A war hero who took part in the D-Day landings and fought across Europe during the Second World War has celebrated his 90th birthday.

Stanley Melling, of Stockdove Way, Cleveleys, was joined by dozens of family and friends at his home yesterday to mark the special occasion.

Veteran Stanley Melling celebrates his 90th birthday

Veteran Stanley Melling celebrates his 90th birthday

Mr Melling, who enlisted when he was just 18, fought as part of The Green Howards regiment reaching the rank of corporal.

He took part in the D-Day landings in June 1944, fighting in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as helping to liberate the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen.

The Normandy landings were the landing operations in June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during the Second World War.

The 90-year-old also survived a German artillery attack – suffering major wounds to his leg and arm.

Veteran Stanley Melling celebrates his 90th birthday

Veteran Stanley Melling celebrates his 90th birthday

Born in Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1925, he trained in Berwick-upon-Tweed for six weeks before travelling to Richmond, London and onto France.

Mr Melling, who admitted he “thanks the Lord everyday” for being alive, told The Gazette he was not scared before the D-Day landings started – just prepared to do what he was told.

He said: “You could not say to your commanding officer, ‘sorry sir, I do not want to go’.

“You just did it.

Veteran Stanley Melling celebrates his 90th birthday.  Pictured with him are L-R Alan Kennedy, Doris Melling, Lynn Kennedy, Glennis Townend and Nina Ramsden.

Veteran Stanley Melling celebrates his 90th birthday. Pictured with him are L-R Alan Kennedy, Doris Melling, Lynn Kennedy, Glennis Townend and Nina Ramsden.

“When we reached Normandy on the landing craft the front opened and we all piled out.

“We had to wade through water up to our necks and then get down on the beach and lie flat.

“The Germans were firing bullets over our heads. My commanding officer said ‘get up and get over the hill’.

“I always remember running up and seeing a young German soldier dead on the ground.

“A few days into the fighting we approached a farmhouse but did not realise it had Germans inside. They shot at us and I dived for cover, wading through a field. My backpack was destroyed by bullets.

“I tried to get away over a fence but was hit by shrapnel to my left arm and leg.

“I had to come home for six weeks for treatment.”

After his shrapnel wounds healed he fought throughout Europe, liberating Bergen-Belsen before reaching Berlin.

He added: “Belsen was awful. I remember these malnourished women asking ‘Englander, Englander, water’. We did not have the time to stay and help them.”

He returned after the war and married wife Doris, 87, before joining the Post Office, working as a delivery driver for 33 years.

The 90-year-old moved to Blackpool in 1965 with Doris, living in Highcroft Avenue, Bispham, before moving to Stockdove Way nine years ago.

The couple have a daughter, Lynne, one grandson, two step-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren.

His family hope he will received the Legion D’Honneur, one of France’s highest honours, an award for all surviving veterans from the Normandy Landings, but Mr Melling said he is just happy with his birthday gifts – champagne and ale.

What were the D-Day landings and what were Gold Beach’s targets?

The Normandy landings were the landing operations in June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during the Second World War.

It was the largest seaborne invasion in history, the operation was the start of the liberation of German-occupied northwestern Europe from Nazi control and contributed to the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Mr Melling took part in the invasion known as Gold Beach.

Gold Beach was the centre of five key points the Allies used in a major offensive to re-take France.

The Allied objectives at Gold were to secure a beachhead, establish contact with the American forces at Omaha, capture Bayeux and the small port at Port-en-Bessin, and to link up with the Canadian forces at Juno to the east.