D-Day

'Shores Of Normandy': D-Day Veteran Releases Charity Single For 75th Anniversary

Jim Radford was 15 years old when he served with the Merchant Navy on D-Day.

A veteran has released a charity song to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

90-year-old Jim Radford's ballad 'The Shores of Normandy' aims to raise money for a British Normandy memorial.

The monument is to commemorate the 22,442 British men that lost their lives on the beaches and set up to leave a permanent legacy behind overlooking Gold Beach.

The memorial, in the small French village of Ver-sur-Mer, is being inaugurated by the Prime Minister and French President on 6 June.

On the morning of the invasion, 75 years ago, Jim was serving with the Merchant Navy as a galley boy, when his ship reached Gold Beach.

He did not return to Normandy for 25 years.

"Gold Beach was a terrible sight," Jim says.

"It was piled high with equipment and burning landing craft, but as we got closer you could see a lot of bodies".

On his first trip back there in 1969, he was greeted with a very different scene: "I saw the children playing upon the beach."

His song tells of the horrors, but also the happiness he felt seeing the beaches again full of life and hope.

The launch on Wednesday was on board HMS Belfast – a ship that was used on 6 June to support troops landing at Gold and Juno beaches.

Jim Radford sitting on HMS Belfast.
Jim Radford sitting on HMS Belfast.

"I was overwhelmed with the recollection of what I had seen and moved to tears by the contrast. I had to express that somehow and I was into folk music.

"It took me a long time from when I had written it to be able to sing it in public because it was such a powerful and emotional recollection for me.

"I hadn't realised when I wrote it that I would transfer, communicate any of that emotion, but apparently I do because after I did the first recording at the Albert Hall, lots of people contacted me and said I made them cry."

Like so many, Jim will be returning to Normandy in June to pay his respects.

Jim Radford's single aims to raise funds for the D-Day Memorial (Picture: Normandy Memorial Trust).
Jim Radford's single aims to raise funds for the D-Day Memorial (Picture: Normandy Memorial Trust).