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2nd World War


D-Day 80th Anniversary - Marine Gerald Naylor
D-Day 80th Anniversary - Marine Gerald Naylor
Photo: Rev David Long
Views: 837
Item #: 35143
80 years ago tonight the Allied troops were embarked on the ships and landing craft for the invasion of Normandy. Hundreds from Wigan Borough were there. Twelve were killed on D-Day itself. I have only found one of them - Marine Naylor - commemorated on a family grave in the Borough's Cemeteries and Churchyards - his being at St Thomas' Ashton.
Here's the full list:
Pte Stanley Bibby, The King’s Liverpool Regiment, who died of his wounds aged 31.
Spr John Brannon, Royal Engineers, who was killed aged 36.
Tpr Frederick Dean, Royal Armoured Corps and No.6 Commando, who was killed aged 25. The son of John and Annie, from Wigan.
Pte William Hampson, 1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment, killed aged 31. Son of James and Elizabeth and the husband of Irene, from Ashton.
Norman Hannah, Royal Navy serving on HMS Lochailort, who was killed operating a tank landing craft aged 20. The son of William Arthur and Annie, from Leigh.
Charles Edward Johnson, Royal Marines, killed aged 20. The son of Robert and Ann, from Hindley.
Pte John Kelly, 1st Battalion South Lancashire Regiment, killed aged 40. The son of John and Ann and the husband of Elizabeth, from Hindley.
Sgmn William McLeod, Royal Corps of Signals, killed aged 20. The son of Charles and Anne, from Wigan.
Gerald Naylor, Royal Marines, killed aged 20. The son of Peter and Edith.
Pte William Sutton, 7th Battalion The Green Howards (Yorkshire Regiment). Killed aged 28. The son of Thomas and Maria.
Capt James Helier White, The South Lancashire Regiment, killed aged 34. Born in Wigan, the son of Dr Robert Prosser and Clarice.
Pte Walter Bertram Wood, 1st Battalion The South Lancashire Regiment, age unknown. The son of Thomas Bertram and Florence.
I produced this list for the 75th anniversary, mainly from Dr Eric McPherson's "Roll of Honour", listing all those commemorated on the Borough's War Memorials. It was printed in the Wigan Observer. This year there is no mention of the D-Day Anniversary in the paper - not even in a feature entitled "This Week in History" on page 2!

Comment by: RON HUNT on 5th June 2024 at 22:45

Disgraceful...Says it all about the Observer and the people who run it...... Who buys it these days??? Run on a shoestring. Price increase every couple of months. Run by people with no affinity with Wigan. and know NOTHING about the towns history.

Comment by: Graham on 6th June 2024 at 02:33

They grow not old as we grow old. Age does not weary them, nor the years condemn.

They fought and died for the freedom of the world and for those that they loved.

Comment by: Veronica on 6th June 2024 at 08:21

I watched the ceremony at Bayeux Cemetery it was very touching. There’s not many veterans left now but the ones who did attend did so well when they spoke. They were all of the same mind it was the ones who didn’t make it back that were the hero’s. I just think each and every one of those who took part in the greatest invasion ever were hero’s to the last. They were told one in three wouldn’t come back. Imagine knowing that on the way there. Bless them all we owe so much to them.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 6th June 2024 at 09:04

The Observer's failure to mark the anniversary seems compounded by seeing on last night's local news that a Wigan D-Day veteran, Marine James Belcher, was among the group flown to Normandy from Warton by BAE Systems yesterday.
About half the men on the above list are buried or commemorated at Bayeux, the rest being at Hermanville.
You'll find further details on most of them on the Wigan & Leigh Archives site. There was only one I couldn't find there - McLeod, which is a bit surprising as he is commemorated on the Wigan and the Wigan Grammar School Memorials.

Comment by: Veronica on 6th June 2024 at 09:27

I agree I saw Mr Belcher on the local news last night. He should have been on the front page of the local newspaper.! So many of those ex soldiers are so self effacing and humble about what they did and just feel lucky to be alive.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 6th June 2024 at 11:28

Under "Roadworks" in the Observer you'll find a notice warning you to avoid the town centre on Saturday morning because of a parade... but nothing about D-Day anniversary events going on in Mesnes Park, where the parade is heading.

Comment by: Colin Traynor on 6th June 2024 at 11:43

Rev Long, very good of you to commemorate this import event and the provide the information on those brave men.
Ron, you are right, disgraceful. The Wigan Observer has far more important things to report on such as the following:
'A man has pleaded not guilty to damaging a door at a McDonald's restaurant'.
Great bit of journalism Gaynor Clarke, you earned your money this week!

Comment by: Cyril on 6th June 2024 at 11:45

Capt. James Helier White killed on that day and named on the list above, his father Dr Prosser White specialised in skin, and had the Dermatological Department at Leigh Infirmary named after him.

One Lancashire man related a very sad story of a troop carrier that hadn't gone in far enough to the beach, and when the troops wearing heavy kit jumped down into the water it was that deep they just sank down and drowned, so many horrific stories of that day to hear.

The local and national newspapers haven't been worth buying for some time and it seems they want you to read online. Both the Observer and Wigan Post had nothing of interest, and we stopped buying them some time ago for that reason

Comment by: Rev David Long on 6th June 2024 at 16:29

Capt. White is commemorated on Southport's Monument -presumably his parents either lived or retired to there. The Wigan Archives give him living in Beaconsfield and his occupation as "Specialist in industrial diseases of the skin".
As for the online news - Wigan Today covered Marine Belcher being helped to get replacement medals last year - and even mentioned the D-Day anniversary, but I've not seen what you'd think would be the logical follow-up.

Comment by: Arthur on 7th June 2024 at 07:13

The Wigan Observer is only a shadow of what it use to be. It seems to have new owners every few years, the paper has no character anymore. The Observer was a family business for 113 years until 1966, and it cared for Wigan and its people. Now owned by National World in Leeds and printed in Sheffield says it all.

Comment by: Black ink on 7th June 2024 at 07:27

I don't buy the paper anymore it's lost it's way since leaving Woods street, wigan. How can you have two weekly newspapers the Observer and Post published by the same people with the same news in a small town. Up to the 1980s, the Observer was printed and published in Wigan by Wigan journalists who loved and cared for Wigan and it's people. I agree, the paper has no feelings at all.

Comment by: Paper chase on 7th June 2024 at 07:45

The Observer's Editor should hang his or her head in shame.
Indeed disrespectful to it's readers and war families.

Comment by: Wiganer on 7th June 2024 at 07:55

The 0bserver never been the same since it went tabloid.
Many former Editors and journalists will turn over it their graves how the paper's published today.

Comment by: Alan McPherson on 7th June 2024 at 08:41

Rev Long, thank-you for your acknowledgement of my brother Eric's book, 'Roll Of Honour' published in 2001, for your primary information source. He put a tremendous effort in researching all those who died in WW2 from Wigan Metro District.

Comment by: Veronica on 7th June 2024 at 10:15

Even Rishi left the ceremonies early! But he’s apologised so that’s ok!

Comment by: Karl A. on 7th June 2024 at 12:43

The Wigan Observer had a slogan in the late 1970s that said "the paper that cares " and they kept their word, but since the mid 1980s to this day is slowly being killed off by misguided people.
I've not bought the paper for over a year now, and don't miss it!

Comment by: Rev David Long on 7th June 2024 at 13:27

Alan - I have used Eric's book since it was published. He contacted me when compiling it, concerning St Mary's memorial names, and I was able to help him with that, and in finding a couple he'd not found. It is indeed a very thorough work - I don't think he missed a single WW2 Memorial in Wigan Borough and its immediate surrounds - and he also found dozens who were not listed on any memorials. The only pity is that he did it all without computers - so it's not possible to republish it straight onto the internet.

As for Rishi - he probably looked at the indifference of the Wigan Observer and decided no one was really bothered anyway....

Comment by: Meg on 7th June 2024 at 14:43

It's a disgrace that Sunak left the ceremonies early, all for the sake of AN ELECTION INTERVIEW with ITV. I 'm sure many people are disgusted by his lack of respect and rightly so.

Comment by: admin on 7th June 2024 at 16:16

I emailed the Observer ref. the D.D Commemorations not being mentioned.. True to form, they haven't replied.
Once the voice of true Wiganers. Now a voice of the minorities.

Comment by: Tommy Banks on 7th June 2024 at 18:31

Somebody should ask Geoff Shryane for his opinion on how the Observer is run now he as left.

Comment by: Clifford on 7th June 2024 at 19:05

Well said Admin. The Wigan Observer use to boast on the front page next to the masthead...."The Voice of Wigan for ie, over 150 years". Last year in January 2023, the paper reached 170 years, serving the people of Wigan, and you guess it, nothing mentioned.
No wonder the circulation figures are down. The powers that be, are killing this great newspaper that grace our Town so proudly back in the day.
Thank you for caring Rev Long.

Comment by: Alfred on 8th June 2024 at 12:23

Sad the Wigan Observer hasn't mentioned the DD Commemorations, very disrespectful to all involved with the paper. I stopped buying the paper once Geoffrey Shryhane retired and no one took over the Wigan world page, and they stopped publishing the Retro pages too. For me the paper has no meaning and is a far cry from years ago. The Wigan Post is a nothing paper too.
I'm so glad I've live to enjoy the great years of the Observer from 1960s, use to look forward to Fridays Obby.
Thanks to Rev David and Admin for pointing this out.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 8th June 2024 at 18:55

What are "the minorities", admin?

Comment by: admin on 8th June 2024 at 19:48

MINORITIES...Definition. Anyone with an Agenda or view that isn't the view of the majority.

Comment by: Rev David Long on 8th June 2024 at 19:56

I'm not sure why that's a problem - aren't folk entitled to a view? And how do you define "the majority"?

Comment by: Al on 8th June 2024 at 20:02

Minorities meaning. "Not many"

Comment by: John (pensioner) on 9th June 2024 at 09:18

I don't think the modern day Wigan Observer understands our war time History and culture.

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