Sheffield World War Two D-Day veteran dies aged 96
A Sheffield war veteran who was awarded the Legion of Honour for his role in the Normandy landings has died.
Bert Holmshaw served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers attached to the 7th Field Regiment Royal Artillery.
He was part of the main assault division for Sword Beach on D Day in June 1944, for which he was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of merit.
Born in Sheffield in 1924, Bert married Betty in 1949 and had daughters Christine and Janet, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
After the war he was employed as a mechanic and later worked for the Ministry of Transport as a senior vehicle examiner.
This role led to a move from Sheffield and work in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Kidderminster, returning to the north to live in Mansfield when he retired.
Three-and-a-half years ago Bert moved to live with his daughter, Janet, in Peckham and threw himself in to creating a new life in the south.
He was a popular member of Link Age Southwark and local Royal British Legion.
Before lockdown he would ensure he was out every day to groups and activities and during lockdown he challenged himself to “up and downs” - climbing the stairs - so that when lockdown was lifted, he would be fit to get around.
Bert’s daughters, Janet Holmshaw and Christine Orton, said, “Our dad was a real gentleman, a good and loyal husband, a caring father, grandfather and great grandfather. He will be sadly and greatly missed.
"We have so many memories of our visits to Normandy. He always loved to go whenever he was able to and we were lucky to experience some of these trips with him.
"What we have taken most from our Normandy trips is the camaraderie of all the forces, both serving and veterans, and the high esteem in which the French, of all ages, hold each one of the veterans, coupled with the gratitude they show to them.
"A high spot of these trips for dad was to visit and be included in the celebrations of the first small village which dad helped to liberate the day after the D-Day landings, Périers-sur-le-Dan, who hold their own memorial celebrations each year.
"We have always been proud of our dad, but on these occasions are overwhelmed by the courage of him and his fellow comrades. Heroes every one of them.”
Bert was a much-loved member of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans and he had been with the charity to Normandy to mark D Day in 2018 and 2019 with his daughters.
Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said: “When I spoke to Bert the first time, I was stunned when he told me he was a REME LAD attached to the same field regiment (7th) my dad was in.
"He was a wealth of information on our trips back to Normandy, talking about the early days after D-Day and where the regiment's guns were sited and taking us to small monuments I never even knew existed.
"He was a regular visitor to Périers-sur-le-Dan and the service held there every year on June 7 to the men that were lost. It was always very emotional to be with Bert at the cemeteries visiting his fallen comrades.
"I will be eternally grateful to him for sharing his World War Two stories with me and being such a great friend.”
Veterans can find out more about support from the Taxi Charity at www.taxicharity.org
In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor