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Richard Keegan: A hero who stormed Sword Beach on D-Day

The death of Richard Keegan, WWII soldier


Old soldier Richard (Dick) Keegan, who has died aged 89, took part in the D-Day landings as a regular with the Royal Ulster Rifles and was injured by shellfire days later.

Dick, a native of Lisnaskea but whose home town was Lurgan for all of his adult life, dodged enemy machine-gun fire as he and his comrades from D-Company made their way up Sword Beach on June 6, 1944 to dig in.

And at dawn the next morning he was still unscathed as his platoon fought to take over Cambes Wood, sheltering for a while in a cornfield. The action had to be abandoned when their commanding officer James Allsworth was killed.

Dick's luck ran out three days later on June 9 when he was injured by a German shell and had to be stretchered to safety before transfer to a military hospital in Yorkshire.

As he was restored to full health Dick's pleas to return to the action with the Second Bn of the RUR were refused, and he instead joined the Royal Corps of Signals and spent the rest of the war in a vital back-up support unit.

He revisited Normandy in 2004 – the 60th anniversary of D-Day – and again the next year with his son Billy.

Dick returned to civvy street in 1946 and after a spell as a coal delivery man he was trained and worked in the lenses department of an optical firm where he became a charge hand, and also served as a branch secretary of the Amalgamated Engineering Union.

It was while Dick was working at the optical firm that his eye fell on his future wife Renee, who was also on the staff and they married in 1949. Later Dick worked as a postman and then trained as a fitter, before working in Lurgan Hospital until his retirement.

He and Renee, who predeceased him, had a long, happy marriage and he is survived by sons Richard and Billy, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Dick was a warden in both St John's Parish Church and Shankill Parish Church in Lurgan, where his funeral service was held.

Belfast Telegraph