D-Day veteran remembers comrades in chart-topping Normandy landing song
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"The Shores of Normandy" by 91-year old D-Day veteran, Jim Radford, is No.1 on Amazon's singles chart. Proceeds from sales will support the British Normandy Memorial inaugurated today by President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May.
Jim Radford was only 15 when he enrolled as a ship's galley boy on the Empire Larch vessel, making him the youngest known D-Day veteran.
He helped build the Mulberry harbour at Gold Beach which enabled the British Royal Navy to get personnel, supplies and vehicles onto the beaches in Normandy. Seeing his comrades' corpses floating around the ship was a rude awakening for the 15-year old.
"Now the Empire Larch was a deep-sea tug with a crew of thirty-three
And I was just a galley-boy on my first trip to sea
I little thought when I left home of the dreadful sites I'd see
But I came to manhood on the day that I first saw Normandy" he sings.
Radford's poem is set to an Irish tune "The Dawning of the Day" often known as "Raglan Road".
He wrote the lyrics in 1969 when he returned to Normandy for the first time and was struck by seeing children playing on the beaches.
"It wasn't until I went back, saw the children playing on the beach, that I was sort of overwhelmed with recollection of what I've seen and moved to tears by the contrast, as a lot of veterans were," he said in a video posted on the Normandy Memorial Trust page.
The song ends with: "As the years pass by, I can still recall the men I saw that day
Who died upon that blood-soaked sand, where now sweet children play
And those of you who were unborn, who've lived in liberty
Remember those who made it so on the shores of Normandy."
Proceeds from sales of the song are going to support the British Normandy memorial, a sculpture listing the 22,442 names of those under British command, who died during the D-day counter-offensive. It will be inaugurated Thursday by President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May.