Letchworth D-Day veteran speaks on Remembrance Day
A WAR veteran who has taken a remembrance service in Letchworth GC this morning (Thursday) has spoken of his remarkable involvement in D-Day.
John Stoddard was working as a reporter on the Letchworth and Baldock Citizen when he got called up to fight in WWII in 1942 at the age of 20.
Mr Stoddard was unable to fly for the Royal Air Force (RAF) due to vertigo so volunteered for RAF intelligence, and towards the end of the war was trained in preparation for D-Day, to help set up the first runways at the beaches in Normandy, France.
The 88-year-old, who has lived in Letchworth GC since the 1930s, spoke to The Comet about his D-Day experience, which began with a boat journey from the UK to France.
He said: “It was 17 hours on a choppy sea, it was so bad I was seasick all the way.
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“When we got there we got lost, ending up in a small village which was occupied by the enemy. We weren’t able to radio.
“There was a lot of shelling going on and bombs and things and I was wounded.
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“I realised that I’d been got a bit - I lost a lung and had a lot of shrapnel in me.
“I got flown back to England and spent six months in hospital, and then came back to Letchworth and started up my company.
I’ve tried but I have never found out what happened to them.”
Mr Stoddard, whose Blackhorse Lane-based business Stoddard Manufacturing is now run by his son, added: “I knew what I was letting myself in for but it was pretty terrifying.”