Hero’s send-off for D-Day landings veteran Albert, 91

The family of a D-Day landings war veteran have paid tribute to their hero, who died last week at the age of 91.

Thursday, 16th July 2015, 10:00 am
Albert Nield, wearing his Legion d'Honneur medal, with his wife May.

Albert Nield was one of the first soldiers to arrive on the beach at Normandy in June 1944.

His tank survived hitting three mines.

Albert received his Legion d’Honneur medal, France’s highest military honour, in recognition of the part he played in the war, just three weeks before he died.

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The Legion d'Honneur medal.

His wife of almost 40 years, May, said: “He was such a larger than life character, a lovely outgoing person, and everybody just loved him.

“He was always singing, and every story he told had a funny ending.

“He was a very unique person.”

Albert, who lived in Scott Grove, Morecambe, with May, died at home on July 8 – three days before his 92nd birthday – after a short battle with liver cancer.

He and May would have celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in October.

Albert was born near Accrington on July 11 1923, the second youngest of six children.

As a young man he was called up to serve in World War Two, and was among the first wave of men to reach Normandy as part of the D-Day landings on June 5 1944.

Albert, who was just 20 at the time, was a tank gunner and wireless operator with the 22nd Dragoons.

Arriving at Cresserons in France, Albert’s regiment travelled from France through Holland and Germany, ending up near the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

After the war ended, Albert returned home and married his first wife Muriel.

The couple moved to Morecambe with their two sons, Peter and Chris, in 1963, where he worked firstly in the milk trade before spending 20 years at ICI.

Albert later married May, who had two sons, Robert and Paul, and two daughters, Janette and Jenny, of her own.

They also now have eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Albert returned to Normandy for the first time since the war for the 60th anniversary of D-Day.

He then visited for both the 65th and the 70th anniversaries.

He had remained friends with some of the people he met in 1944, and some of their descendants will be attending his funeral next week.

Last year the French government said it wanted to recognise the selfless acts of heroism and determination displayed by all surviving veterans of the landings, and of the wider campaigns to liberate France in 1944, by awarding them with the Legion d’Honneur.

Albert’s family applied for his medal last year, and finally heard in February that he qualified.

Sadly, Albert became ill the following month and was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer, so the family contacted the French authorities to try to speed up the process.

His medal arrived in the post on June 15.

May said: “We were so pleased it arrived in time. He was so proud.”

Albert’s funeral will be held at Wesley Methodist Church in Heysham at 2pm on Wednesday July 22, and then at Lancaster & Morecambe Crematorium.

The Last Post will be played at the service, and a standard bearer will also be present.

May said: “It is to pay a tribute to our hero.”