Northampton D-Day veteran recalls role in allied assault

D-day veteran William Nash of Duston.
D-day veteran William Nash of Duston.

A Northampton D-Day veteran has recalled how he delivered vital maps to Allied troops on the frontline under the watch of a German spotter plane 70 years on from the Normandy assault.

Now fully blind, but still with a pinpoint memory of the historic day, William Nash, 94, of Scarplands, Duston, was just 24 when he left Folkstone for the French coast.

As a printer in the army, he was charged with delivering maps to the airborne, navy and army regiments, in order to help them co-ordinate their attack.

Today he donned his army uniform to watch the D-Day commemorations on television with his wife Joan and son Martin.

Casting his mind back to June, 1944, Mr Nash told how he travelled to the French coast on an American warship, which detached from the main flotilla and headed to an unknown cove.

“We were armed and were told to protect the maps, because if they had fell into enemy hands it would have been disastrous,” he said.

“Among our group were men from the ordnance corps, RMC and others, we were about 50 strong.

“We slept overnight, I had a tin plate over the top of me which I had found on the beach, I cant imagine that would have protected me much.

“I cannot remember how long we were in that cove, maybe two or three days, and then we made our way to Caen, where we joined up with another convoy, venturing further into France to join the fighting forces, we had travelled through and camped at Bayeux and Arromanche.

“Dug in for the night we were called out as Germans were crossing a field towards us, I saw cooks, medics, just about everyone in a ditch waiting.

“I grabbed my Sten gun and sprayed it at the enemy, I wasn’t the greatest shot in the army and I have no idea if I hit anyone, I hope not. Spitfires overhead cleared a lot of the danger, the roar was incredible.”

Later in the war Mr Nash would later join attacks in Bayeux and the Rhine crossing.

He said: “I witnessed so much which has affected me to this day, I find myself anti-­war now, although it’s clear that sometimes it is a necessary evil.”

Mr Nash, originally of Hoxton, London, married Joan in 1954 and the couple moved to Northampton.

His son, Martin spoke today of his pride for his father.

He said: “It’s amazing to have someone here who was there on the day.

“Seeing the maps that dad has - it’s incredible to see where he went on that day - it’s like looking at a slab of history.”