Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland D-Day veteran Eddie Spence dies

Eddie Spence was just 19 when he landed on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Credit: BBC
Eddie Spence was just 19 when he landed on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. Credit: BBC

The funeral of one of Northern Ireland's D-Day veterans is to be held today in Co Down.

Eddie Spence, who was in his 90s and from Newtownards, died in hospital last Thursday, just days after the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy.

He was just 19-years-old when he landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, where 10,000 soliders were injured and more than 4,000 killed.

Along with some of his fellow soldiers, in 2015 Eddie Spence was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by France for his contribution to the liberation of Europe.

Speaking to the BBC at the time, he told of a previous visit to Normandy where he was thanked for his service.

"We were in the museum and a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to follow him, which I did do. We went down the corridor and there was this farmer and he put his arms around me and thanked me for his freedom," he said.

"We went outside and seen all the kids playing on the beach, I thought it was great. I had been there to do something. Now it was all so quiet and peaceful."

Eddie Spence went on to marry and have two sons.

Considered a turning point in the Second World War, Operation Overlord saw some 156,000 British, American and Canadian troops arrive on French soil from sea and air on June 6 1944, to liberate Europe from the Nazis.

Around 4,400 Allied troops were killed in fighting that day at the start of the battle to free Normandy.

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