Royal British Legion

EXACTLY 75 years ago – 6 June 1944 – a massive Allied invasion force descended on Normandy in France.

D-Day, Operation Neptune, as was its official codename, was the largest seaborne assault in history.

Woking Electric Supply Company’s wartime fire crew, with William Francis standing second from left

It was the beginning of Operation Overlord, which aimed to liberate western Europe from Nazi control.

News & Mail reader William Francis was an electrician in the RAF around the time of D-Day.

He was stationed at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire. Although officially assigned to a training wing he recalls loading aircraft with bombs.

Before he was called up, he worked for the Woking Electric Supply Company.

During the Second World War it had its own fire service. Employees were formed into two crews who alternated keeping a night-time watch in case the works was bombed and set alight.

He recalls they had a covered cart with a ladder attached and all their own equipment including a pump.

An underground storeroom was used as an air-raid shelter where they could also get a bit of sleep.

He said: “I spent most nights on duty there until I was called up. But sometime after D-Day we were surplus to requirements in the RAF, so I transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and ended up in Scotland before returning to work at Woking Electric.”

For the full story, see the 6 June edition of the News & Mail

SERVICE veterans and young people joined together to honour England’s patron saint on Sunday morning.

They combined for the annual St George’s Day parade and service at St Peter’s Church in Old Woking.

The mayor and mayoress arrive for the parade

The church was full for a service which included a seven-question quiz about St George presented by the vicar, the Rev Johnathan Thomas.

The event saw standards from naval ex-service groups including the Royal Marines Association and the Royal Naval Association being carried, along with a Royal British Legion standard.

A union flag and a St George’s flag were also carried and Rajendra Chhetri represented former Ghurkhas and the Nepalese community, bearing the flag of Nepal.

Members of Woking’s Sea Cadets, Junior Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets, based at TS Dianthus in Goldworth Park, also attended.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Woking, Cllr Will Forster and Hannah Thompson, were guests at the occasion and chatted with the standard bearers.

As befits a naval occasion, tots of rum were taken at the end of the service.

See the special picture feature in the 2 May edition of the News & Mail