Tributes after ‘amazing’ Sheffield Normandy veteran dies aged 95

Copy Picture of Normandy Veteran, Douglas Longstaff, aged 20
Copy Picture of Normandy Veteran, Douglas Longstaff, aged 20
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A Sheffield Normandy veteran who fought for six years in World War Two has died at the age of 95.

A special service is set to be held this Friday for Douglas Longstaff, a local legend of Woodthorpe who worked in the steel industry as well as a spell fighting for Britain from 1940 to 1946.

Normandy Veteran, Douglas Longstaff, 92 at his son's home in Mosborough

Normandy Veteran, Douglas Longstaff, 92 at his son's home in Mosborough

Douglas, the oldest participant to complete the march for Armed Forces and Veterans Day in Sheffield in June, fought in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

He landed on the beach at Normandy four days after the D-Day landings and fought through Normandy, Belgium and Germany before ending up in Austria.

Douglas served as a ‘number two’, loading mortar rounds into the barrels to be fired.

Douglas’ son John said: “You can’t imagine what it was like. Whereas there have been wars since, the people fighting in them chose to do it.

“Like so many people, my father was conscripted to do his duty.

“He took pride in the number of mortar barrels he could feed in a minute.”

After the war, Douglas returned to Sheffield to look after the three young children left by his wife’s parents, who had both died by 1952.

Douglas, a lifelong Sheffield United supporter, was made redundant from the steelworks at the age of 47 and became a road surface worker, working on the highways until the age of 76.

During retirement, Douglas became ‘a bit of a character’ around Woodthorpe, often singing to people in shop queues to entertain them.

John said: “He could turn anything into a bit of a song – he had millions of songs he sang to people.

“My father was an amazing man and he led an amazing life.

“He was selfless and, apart from Margaret Thatcher and Wayne Rooney, he never had a bad word to say about anyone.

“He was well liked by everyone at the Richmond Road shops and he was very proud to be the oldest person in the Veterans Day march.”

The Rifles Brigade in Pontefract will provide a bugler and standard bearers for Douglas’ service on Friday.

The interment will take place at City Road Cemetery in Sheffield. The ashes of his brother-in-law, Ernest Oxley, formerly of the RAF, will be interred at the same time.