Ray Shuck D Day Veteran Remembrance Day Funeral
Veterans

D-Day Veteran Ray Shuck Honoured At His Funeral – Months After Internet Stardom For Armistice Day Tribute

Armed Forces join hundreds of mourners following Ray’s death as paratroopers carry his coffin at his funeral service

Ray Shuck D Day Veteran Remembrance Day Funeral

A bugler played the Last Post as paratroopers carried the coffin of D-Day veteran Ray Shuck at an emotional funeral service to honour the serviceman who only last year won the hearts of the nation by standing from his wheelchair to salute fallen comrades on Armistice Day.

Armed Forces personnel joined hundreds of mourners to honour Ray, 95, who was among the first British landing divisions to drop into Normandy on D-Day and who later survived a shot in the head by a German sniper in June 1944.

Thousands of people across the country praised Ray last year after a video of him shared online showed him being helped out of his wheelchair by two paratroopers as he made it clear he was determined to proudly stand and salute despite struggling to pull himself up during the Remembrance service in November.

Obituary for Ray Shuck, 95, the late D-Day veteran

The video soon went viral and was watched by millions around the world, with many people later discovering more about his heroic D-Day story as a member of the 6th Airborne Air-landing Division, 4th Air Landing Anti-Tank Battery, 13th Battalion the Parachute Regiment in the Second World War.

Ray, who passed away on the morning of January 5, with his family by his side and laid to rest on February 1, 2019, had been dropped on to landing zone ‘N’, north of Ranville, Normandy at 0330 on June 6 1944 to take a key road bridge in Normandy - Caen Canal bridge that the Nazis planned to blow up.

The bridge was later named Pegasus Bridge following the success of the D-Day operation. The successful outcome of their mission restricted the German counter-attack following the Allied invasion. This set in motion the liberation of Nazi-controlled Western Europe.

Ray, who lived in Bolton, later recalled the historic moment and said:

"They called it the longest day. We fought like cats for thirty hours to stop them taking the bridges back."

Ray Shuck - D-Day landing: From Parachute Regimental Association
© IWM (HU 92976)

Standard bearers led the procession at the funeral service while six paratroopers stood in as pall-bearers for the service at St John’s Church, Farnworth.

Veterans were invited to form a guard of honour to pay a final tribute to their fallen comrade.

Footage of the viral video, which showed Ray in his beret at the First World War Centenary ceremony in Manchester, was shown at the service as the song The Dream of Olwen from the 1947 film While I Live was played out.

Friends and Armed Forces comrades have also been sharing memories over photographs of Ray, which includes photographs of him meeting royalty including their Royal Highnesses Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Harry.

Friends and fellow members of the Armed Forces also read poems and delivered readings at the emotional service.

 

A full obituary to Ray Shuck can be read below, with thanks to the Parachute Regimental Association in Manchester.

 

Ray Shuck

6th October 1923 – 5th January 2019

 

Ray Shuck sadly passed away on the morning of Saturday 5th January 2019 with his family by his side.

Ray was a member of the 6th Airborne Air-landing Division, 4th Air Landing Anti-Tank Battery, 13th Battalion the Parachute Regiment in WW2. He was dropped onto landing zone ‘N’, north of Ranville, Normandy at 0330 on the 6th June 1944 to take a key road bridge in Normandy - Caen Canal bridge that the Nazis planned to blow up.

The bridge was later named Pegasus Bridge following the success of the D-Day operation. The successful outcome of their mission restricted the German counter-attack following the Allied invasion. This set in motion the liberation of Nazi-controlled Western Europe.

Ray recalled later "They called it the longest day. We fought like cats for thirty hours to stop them taking the bridges back."

 

Battlefield Injury – 8th June 1944

 

On the 8th June Ray was shot in the head by a German Sniper. The bullet struck the top of his head putting a groove in his skull, as it travelled straight through his tin helmet. Ray was left for dead, but a Russian man living in Ranville saw his leg twitch on the battlefield and called for a doctor.

The bullet knocked him unconscious, and he slowly recovered over the course of a year, firstly at hospitals in France and then back in the UK at Worcester Royal Infirmary. If the bullet hit any lower, the surgeon said, it would have been a very different outcome. "The surgeon said I was lucky to be alive. The bullet went in the front of my helmet, skimmed across my head and went out the back. The scar still shows so I wear a hat." Ray said in a 2015 interview. Among his fleeting memories are the nurses and doctors cheering and shouting on VE Day (8th May 1945) because the war was over.

 

Before the war

 

Ray, who grew up in Birmingham, enlisted in the army in 1942 when he was just 19-years-old. "We were fighting for England, that gave us more courage. We didn't want Nazis in Buckingham Palace. I killed a few before they got me. I don't know how I did what I did. It was never terrifying, I enjoyed it", he said.

Ray met his late wife Olwyn, when he came up to Manchester for paratrooper training. He used to parachute into Tatton Park when RAF Ringway (now Manchester Airport) was Britain’s first parachute training school. While he was in France fighting, Olwyn worked in a munitions factory assembling hand grenades and bombs like many of the women who were left at home during the war.

 

After the war

 

After the war, Ray moved back to Altrincham to be with Olwyn and took up various jobs, firstly as a sheet metal worker, then a panel beater. He later worked as a mechanic, then bought a cafe, and further down the line, a camping business. He moved the family to Walkden in the 1960s, and then to Kearsley in the 1970s, where Ray’s two children, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren are based.

In 2015, Ray was awarded the Chevalier de l'ordre National de la légion d'honneur. "I wasn't expecting the medal, with it being 70 years after the war, but was honoured to receive it." Ray said. Ray met members of the Royal family in recent years, including Prince Harry and Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. After kissing Camilla’s hand on introduction, Prince Charles (the Colonel in Chief of the Parachute Regiment) called Ray “a cheeky paratrooper!” and they shared a laugh.   

 

Remembrance Sunday Video – Sunday 11th November 2018

 

Every year, Ray and his family attended a Remembrance Sunday memorial service, typically in Bolton. For Remembrance Sunday on the 11th November 2018 the family headed to St Peter's Square Cenotaph in central Manchester to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

Ray joined serving Paratroopers and Parachute Regiment veterans from the Manchester branch of the PRA (Parachute Regimental Association) as they marched in the parade to the service at the Manchester cenotaph.

During the service Ray's granddaughter, Joanne Raynor said he had "a bit of a funny episode" and required medical attention by the ambulance crew on scene. "He ended up in the back of an ambulance, but he was adamant that he still wanted to go and lay his wreath." Rays daughter Lynda Raynor chatted about the wreath "It is something he always does, but this year it was a bit of a struggle.”

After laying the wreath at the cenotaph, Ray wanted to stand up from his wheelchair to salute his fallen comrades.

In a scene that showed the true bond among the Armed Forces, two younger Paratroopers John Price and Kieran McGurk assisted Ray, so he could stand up and salute. Ray stood up, with dignity and pride and saluted his fallen comrades, before the younger Paratroopers gently sit him back down.

The moment was caught on video by Luce Cook, who said: "It was beautiful and totally unexpected.”  The video quickly went viral after it was posted online where it was viewed more than 10 million times around the world in the week following the event.  It wasn't organised - John and Kieran were behind Ray and his family and had a wreath to lay a wreath in memory of their fallen friends. They said to Ray's granddaughter Joanne, as she was going to lift him up, 'Do you mind if we do it?'

Ray, John and Kieran were reunited on the 24th November 2018 at a lunch for Ray at the Fox Inn in Blackley, Manchester. Ray signed the pub wall that is dedicated to all service and ex-servicemen. 

Rest in Peace Ray.