Tom Pitson D-Day Story
Tue Jul 07 2020 
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D-Day Veteran Pays His Respects
to Fallen Comrades

Tom Pitson at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day

It was certainly and Honour for me to speak to this veteran of the D-Day landings, Mr Tom Pitson, of Tunbridge Wells, Kent, who is one of only a few remaining soldiers that are left who fought on that cold, stormy day on 6th June 1944, in “Operation Overlord .

Tom, who is now 92 years of age still remembers that day as vividly as if it was yesterday, with all the sad memories of friends that did not make it.

He will be at the Tunbridge Wells Memorial on Saturday 6th June, 2009 to lay a wreath in remembrance of those whom he fought with and to those who died alongside him on that terrible and frightening day in 1944.
Mr Tom Pitson recalled his time with the British Army when he fought in the Western desert in 1941/1942 when he was just a private with Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery's 8th Army, he was in charge of a 3” mortar squad at that time and due to his own Bravery he was made up to a full Corporal, which pleased him tremendously.

It was only such a short time before this, that many tens of thousands of English soldiers, like Tom and my Father Ron Bridle (who was also in the 8th Army) were re-called from the conflict in Sicily and Italy, and ordered to make their way by steamship to prepare for the battle soon to commence, the second front, that they new nothing about as it was top-secret.

All too soon the time had come for the thousands of troops to head for the embarkation points all along the South Coast of England, there to cross the stormy English Channel and head inland for the beaches of France.

As soldiers in war, as with the many of thousands of allied troops that day, they firmly believed and hoped that this “Great Crusade that they were a part of, would finally bring to an end the evil Nazi regime that had decimated and destroyed most of Europe and its people, during five long terrible years of tyranny and suffering.

There they were expected to fight to the last man and succeed in winning this battle, the one that would eventually determine the final outcome of Europe.

On 6th June, 1944, in “Operation Overlord, many tens of thousands took part as did Corporal Tom Pitson, heading in landing craft for the beaches.

Tom with his fellow soldiers of the Durham Light Infantry jumped from their landing craft onto Gold Beach on that early morning of the 6th June 1944,  there to face a merciless hail of machine-gun, mortar and tank fire that cascaded all around them, many of his mates were killed within the first few minutes of landing on French soil. He described it as a time of “Bloody Hell Let Loose.

Once on the beach they fought their way up managing to find some refuge from the hail of the killing fire that surrounded them and continued pushing forward breaking the enemy stronghold. Mr Pitson remembered those of his mates and comrades who were killed on that day so long ago, as they fought on the beach.

The Germans threw everything at the allied forces who were clumsily but bravely fighting their way up the beaches to find shelter from the fire that was aimed at destroying them, which killed so many.

Their success and Bravery on that day heralded them all as Heroes who gave their very best to win the Freedom for the French Nation and for Europe itself.

The Allied Armies went on to fight their way up through France, Belgium, Holland and into Germany, suffering terrible casualties and losses, all determined to conquer Hitler's Third Reich, whatever the cost, the price, the sacrifice...!!!

Tom was blown up twice by enemy fire when he finally crossed the Rhine into the Fatherland ”Germany itself, when he was delivering despatches by motorcycle.

From the injuries he received he was immediately ordered back to England as he was very ill, collapsing in the snow during that very cold winter of 1944, but due to his own battle experience he was asked to stay and lead the few men left into battle, as he was the most experienced battle hardened man in the company. But Tom, once he was well enough, like the thousands of other Allied soldiers fulfilled their duty and carried on through to the heart of the Reich. Finally to see it totally destroyed and no longer a threat to mankind.

In all the fighting that Tom had participated in during his time in WW2 with the British army. Tom Pitson was awarded 10 medals for gallantry and also received a letter of commendation from the King.

Today Tom is a relaxed man, but with memories of that day still firmly in his mind and those of his friends he left behind, he remembers them well with affection and sadness, that day on 6th June 1944...!!!
Tunbridge Wells Mayor and Tom Pitson at the 65th Anniversary
 
Anniversary of D-Day at Tunbridge Wells Memorial.
The morning of June 6th 2009, was cloudy with the odd spot of rain, but the sun broke through the clouds brightening this special event, as the men who fought on D-Day 1944, 65 years ago, stood in deep remembrance of those fallen comrades before the towns memorial.

There to Honour those of their friends and mates and all the Allied forces who fought during “The Great Crusade for the Freedom of France and Europe, and for the “boys”....who never came home.

The veterans well in to their 80's and 90's were met by councillors of the town, friends, the Royal British Legion, and many well wishers who lined the pavement to watch this moving event, in their own way paying their respects by saying “Thankyou”to the men who now stood next to them.

Tunbridge Wells Mayor Leonard Price was there to greet them with warmth and respect as he chatted to the veterans about their experiences on that horrific day.

The eldest soldier there was Mr Tom Pitson, with the medals proudly displayed on his chest,  awarded to him for his service and Bravery, not only on D-Day, but during his time in the armed forces.

Tom fought on many Allied fronts, El Alamein, Sicily, and Italy before being re-called to fight on another front...in the biggest battle that the world had ever seen.

He fought all the way from the beaches of Normandy, France, up through Belgium, Holland, and into the heart of Germany.

Bitter fighting was encountered all the way with very heavy losses to the Allied soldiers, with brutal resistance from the German Werhmacht, more so the  fanatical Waffen S.S. who gave no quarter to any Allied soldiers, but were determined to fight and die to the very last man in defending their Fatherland and the “Third Reich”

At 92 years of age, Tom stood erect before the memorial and recited “At the going down of the sun, and in the morning...We will remember them.

Tom stepped forward laid his wreath of poppies at the base of the memorial, stepped back and saluted, a gesture of his own respect for those he remembered so fondly, so well, and to those no longer here.

It was a day to remember the great sacrifice that these men had given, not only in Tunbridge Wells, but all across the country.

Today in Normandy, this 65th Anniversary will be remembered with sincere affection and gratitude by the French, as many thousands of veterans of that day, D-Day, are assembled here from across the world, to remember with great pride and sadness, the day they came here as “boys” and left as Men, to Liberate this country with such tremendous losses.

This will possibly be the very last time they will congregate and meet together, their time in history has nearly passed...”But Never Forgotten!

Just as on that day 6th June 1944, so too on this day 6th June, 2009

 At the Going Down of the Sun and in the Morning

We Will Remember Them.