Final farewell to Blackpool D-Day hero

A Second World War veteran who went on to save many more lives while working as a firefighter has died.

Sunday, 18th June 2017, 11:28 am
Updated Monday, 19th June 2017, 4:27 pm
Don Aiken

Don Aiken, 92, died from heart failure on June 4 following a short illness.

The ex-army man was a D-Day veteran who landed on Gold Beach on June 6 1944 while serving as a wireless operator in the 61st Reconnaissance Corps.

He advanced through France, into Belgium and Holland, before fighting fierce battles at Arnhem and crossing the Rhine.

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The grandad-of-six, who lived in Marton with his wife Brenda, worked as a firefighter for more than 30 years after leaving the army in 1947 at the age of 22.

He attended the famous Tower Ballroom fire of 1956, where the dancefloor inside the Blackpool Tower was destroyed, along with the restaurant underneath the ballroom.

His daughter Caroline Chefton said: “He was a devoted family man. He was the best dad and grandad anyone could ask for. He achieved a lot in his life.

“He was still very dedicated to getting involved with various occasions. He was working right up until he went into hospital.”

Don was the President of the Fylde ex Services Liason committee, secretary of the Fylde Fellowship of the Services and a member of the steering committee for Armed Forces Week.

In 2005 he penned a short article about his experiences in the Second World War for the BBC, in which he described his intense army training in Scarborough to prepare him for the upcoming D-Day.

In 2016 he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur medal for his role in the battle.

He was also the founder of the Fylde Memorial Arboretum, based at Moor Park Avenue, in Bispham, which commemorates soldiers killed in the line of service.

Caroline said: “He will be greatly missed and will leave a big hole in our lives.”

Don leaves behind his wife four children and six grandchildren.

His funeral took place at Lytham Crematorium on Friday.