Funeral of D-day veteran Bill Milward, 106, who stormed Auschwitz and landed on Gold Beach

  • Lewis Warner looks back on the life of D-Day veteran Bill Milward

The funeral for D-Day veteran Bill Milward who died at the age of 106 has taken place in Ashbourne in Derbyshire today.

The service at St Oswald's Church was preceded by a cortège, escorted by motorcycle riders from the Royal British Legion.

Mr Milward was described as a "one-off", as someone who had time for everyone, and as the "life and soul" of the party.

Ann Smith knew Mr Milward her whole life and was a member of the Ashbourne Royal British Legion. She described him as a man of many talents.

"He loved people, he was never happier than when he was dealing with people.

"As soon as you walked in his eyes lit up, he was so pleased to see you. He'd say, 'would you like a jar of jam, or honey?'

"He was a very giving person. You'd say 'No thanks Bill, I've still got what you gave me last time.'

"When everyone wanted to hear about Bill, he wanted to hear about them, and their lives."

She described how when we went to get his Covid jab, he got all the patients and medical staff spaced out two metres apart, to have a sing song.

He was also a talented poet.

Bill Milward during his military service Credit: Handout

He was among the first British personnel to help liberate people trapped in Auschwitz concentration camp during the Second World War.

He also played a major role in the Normandy Landings in June 1994, steering one of the amphibious vehicles onto Gold Beach.

When he came out of the war he worked in a furniture shop, and also had a special bond with the local primary schools, sharing his experiences of battle.

In 2019 ITV News Central filmed with him as he was given a chance to ride through his hometown in the same type of truck he drove in the Normandy landings.

Mr Milward hadn't seen one since was at the wheel all those years ago.

He died earlier this month at a care home.