Derbyshire: Commemorating D Day

It’s been 70 years since Allied Forces stormed beaches in Normandy to release France from the grip of its Nazi occupiers.

June 6 1944, known as D–Day, was the largest sea borne invasion in history and marked the beginning of the end for Hitler’s campaign.

One Elton farmer was among the thousands of troops who took part in the assault – and lived to tell the tale.

As a farmer, Cliff Stone was exempt from being called up, however after seeing his fellow young Elton men go to war, he decided he wanted to join them.

He joined the Sixth Airborne Division and on that fateful day in 1944, he was dropping supplies from aircraft to the troops on the Normandy beaches beneath.

His son, John Stone, who lives in Elton, said: “He was airbourne and his job was to drop supplies to the paras on the evening of D Day.”

John said, like many veterans, his father didn’t talk much about his experiences during the war, however shortly before he died in 2005 aged 86, he managed to get his dad to write down some of his stories.

Cliff was involved in the Battle of Arnhem, which took place in Holland in September 1944.

“The paras on the ground were desperately short of ammunition and supplies and the air bourne had to try and drop supplies for them in broad daylight.

“Around four fifths of the planes and crews were shot down and he was part of the 20 per cent that lived to tell the tell, so he was very lucky.”

At the end of the war, Cliff was sent to Germany to help free people from concentration camps.

Following the conflict, he returned to Elton to farm.

All returning Elton servicemen were given £5 by the ‘Elton & Gratton Welcome Home Fund’. John said his father told him the money was a ‘very big help’ at the time.