A war veteran who was ordered into battle on his 18th birthday has been given one of the highest military honours and we sent Hannah Mitchell to visit him to find out more.
Roy Bradshaw, 90, from Toton was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, the highest French order, in December for the brave role he played in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
Mr Bradshaw was just 16 when he joined the navy in 1942 and was called up to take part in World War Two a year later.
He is the youngest person to receive the award so far because he lied about his young age in order to get into the navy earlier.
He said: “I was only a young lad so it was an adventure, our job was to load the tank landing crafts which allowed them to go out onto the beach.
The medal was awarded at his home in Portland Road on Saturday December 10, 2016.
Speaking about the atrocities he saw on the day, he added: “The worst memory I saw was when the Americans were landing on Omaha beach, one of the planes went straight over the edge of the cliff and there was about 15 men killed because they couldn’t stop it going over the edge.
“I also saw a landing craft beached on what they thought was the beach and a tank full of men went out straight into the water and sank.”
Mr Bradshaw is a hero to his family and everyone he meets.
His daughter Angela Barton of Rutland, said: “He was waiting in the hanger on his 18th birthday and took part in the D-Day landings the day after.”
Shortly after the war was over in 1947, Roy joined the army and after that he became a Nottinghamshire police officer for 25-years and finally worked for the council for 12-years before retiring.
He has been praised by his family for selflessly helping others throughout his whole working career and beyond.
His daughter, said: “He has served the public all his life, he is my hero and I have told him that.”
Roy met his German wife, Ingeburg, in September 1947 in Hamburg, two years after the war had ended, and they married the following year on September 1, 1948.
The wedding ceremony was held in the Army Barracks Chapel, with an Army Chaplain presiding.
A friend made a rhubarb cake for the reception as ingredients were in short supply after the war.
Ingeburg, speaking very little English, then left her family in Germany to live in Nottingham with Roy.
The 85-year-old said: “It was very hard to fit in when I first moved to England from Germany after the war but now I have been here for years.”
Mr Bradshaw rarely speaks of his experiences during the war.
His granddaughter, Emma Rose said, “If you just stop and think about what they did, my granddad was shipping people out to almost certain death and was having to watch as they withdrew and left them.
“If you look at his face sometimes you can see what he has been through, he doesn’t like to talk about it a lot, and it makes me proud but unbelievably sad that they had to go through that.
“He is a protector and he has been doing it all his life.”
Roy’s grandson, Matthew Riley spoke about the effect it has had on Roy, he said: “He cries about it but he will never speak to any of us about it.
“We all know it is very painful for him, I don’t think our generation will ever understand what Roy and many like him have done for us.”
The French medal was presented to Mr Bradshaw by Jean-Claude Lafontaine, honorary French Consul in Nottingham.
Jean-Claude Lafontaine said: “In 2014 Francois Holland agreed with Queen Elizabeth so that the French people could say thank you to all the veterans who helped liberate Europe, so we award them the highest honour of France.
“It is fantastic that we are able to say thank you, it is not just a thank you from France, it is a thank you from our generation.”
You can find out more about Roy and his achievements in this Telegraph article.
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) December 11, 2016
D-Day, also known as the beginning of the end of the war in Europe, was the largest military assault in history and is widely considered as the turning point in World War Two.
More than 4,000 troops lost their lives on that day with thousands more wounded or missing.
Prior to D-Day, the allies conducted a large scale campaign of deception in order to mislead the German’s about the intended target.
D-Day took place on the 6 June 1944 and 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed along five different beaches along a 50-mile stretch of France’s Normandy region.
As a result of the mission, less than a week later the beaches were fully secured. All of northern France had been liberated by the following year and the war was won in September 1945.