Tributes paid to hero of Normandy landing

ONE of Sheffield's last remaining veterans of the D-Day landings has died aged 85.

Les Hinchliffe, of Gaunt Road, Gleadless, was just 19 when he set sail for France with the Navy at dawn on D-Day. He spent three months aboard a floating food supplies boat, or Landing Barge Kitchen, anchored three miles from shore, and watched as the horrors of the war unfolded on the beaches ahead and the skies above him.

In July 1944, Naval Commander in Chief Admiral Ramsay went aboard Les' boat and was photographed with the crew. The barge on which Les served - LBK6 - was the only one to survive from the war, and has since been refurbished as a permanent tribute.

Last year, for the 65th anniversary of D-Day, Les recalled his experiences for a week-long series of features in The Star.

He remembered: "The crossing was terrible - the weather was so bad some of the barges around us were sunk by the waves. As we got closer others were hit by bombs and sunk. There were shells going over the top of us all the time and everybody was scared we were going to get hit."

In September 1944 Les was granted just a few days' home leave to marry his sweetheart, Joyce, now 84. The couple had a white wedding at St Ann's Church in Netherthorpe, followed by a reception at Les' mother's house in Owlerton. There was no time for a honeymoon, as Les returned to active service just two days later.

Following Normandy Les also served in Holland, and returned several times in the years since to revisit old haunts in the towns he helped liberate.

Les and Joyce have one son, also called Leslie, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Les worked as a craftsman mains-layer for British Gas for 43 years and in his spare time loved gardening, Sheffield Wednesday, meals out and holidays abroad.

He died at home following a long illness but got his wish to see each of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the days before he passed away.

The funeral is at 3pm tomorrow at City Road Cemetery. Standard bearers and old comrades from the Sheffield branch of the Normandy Veterans' Association will form a guard of honour and the Last Post will be played. All welcome afterwards at The Earl Marshall pub on East Bank Road, Norfolk Park.

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