Lancashire D-Day veteran still working at 95 shares wartime memories

D-day veteran Ted Richardson and wife Doris pictured on the 75th anniversary of D-Day
D-day veteran Ted Richardson and wife Doris pictured on the 75th anniversary of D-Day
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"Don’t make me out to be a hero. I wasn’t - I was one of many.”

For 95 year old Ted Richardson this year’s anniversary of D-day is a working day.

Ted at work on the farm

Ted at work on the farm

He watched the 2019 commemorations beginning on TV yesterday and reflected he was one of the fortunate who had served and survived.

He said: “I think of all the young fellows that lost their life in it. I was one of the lucky ones.”

Then it was back to caring for his livestock as the fifth generation to farm at Sturzaker House Farm at Barnacre, near Preston.

For Ted, who volunteered at the age of 18 in 1942, joining the Royal Navy was a culture shock: “Farming was a reserved occupation. In Garstang a lot of people went in the navy. All my friends were joining I thought I would go and volunteer, not thinking they would take me!

Ted with some of his cattle

Ted with some of his cattle

“ I'd never been further than Preston and Blackpool, just round about – where you could bike to, we only had bicycles then. They sent us down to Plymouth that was an eye opener. There were steam trains then and it took 24 hours to get to Plymouth.”

One of his first jobs was guarding a radar station on the Isle of Man, then he was on a trawler sweeping for mines up the English Channel.

The Allied invasion of Normandy to liberate France was a turning point in the Second World War.

Ted recalled: “On D-day we went from the Isle of Wight. We had to wait two days – they put it back. We were all ready to go. Our flotilla was on Omaha beach. We were minding the Americans ashore.We took the troops in first and then the supplies after. It was like a shuttle service.

'”There were three of us in the landing craft. One got shot through his chest. It broke four of his ribs and did his lungs. We stayed on the beach and took him to a tent where an American doctor was. They then shipped him back to barracks in Plymouth. “

Ted had sustained shrapnel injury to his arm.

It was non-stop for 24 hours, then there was an opportunity to tie up their craft and get a little sleep.

He remained on duty in the area from June to January, moving up towards Cherbourg when a small harbour was created.

He has clear memories of the first weeks after D-day when a storm almost wrecked operations. He also recalls the sweeping for mines.

In 2017 Ted was honoured when he was appointed by by the President of France to the rank of Chevalier in the Order national de la Legion d'honneur.

The notification of the award came in a letter which acknowledged the honour was “in recognition of your acknowledged military engagement and your steadfast involvement in the Liberation of France during the Second World War.”

It continued: “As we contemplate this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication because you were ready to risk your life.”

The former Leading Seaman has an Atlantic Star, a 39/45 medal and a North Atlantic medal but the French honour has special significance for him:

Ted said: “I was quite proud of that because it's a very high order – I'm a knight really of the legion of honour.”

He left school at 14 and says “It was my education - three and a half years in the navy.”

He was glad to return to the family farm: “I came back and was my own boss.”

In time he became president of Garstang Show and is also a former chairman of the Fylde Farming Group.

He has helped many students from Myerscough College, near Preston, learn about farming and agriculture.

On leaving the navy he married first wife Sheila, had two children and was later widowed. Some 22 years later he married Doris and they have now been married for 28 years. He has two grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Looking back across the decades he says simply of his war-time service: “You hope that it's stopping wars.”