Codebreaker veteran from Crewe celebrates his 100th birthday by receiving Guard of Honour

Video report by Ann O'Connor

A D-Day veteran has received a Guard of Honour from the Royal British Legion to mark his 100th birthday.

Bernard Morgan, was the youngest RAF Sergeant to land in Normandy on D-Day at just 20-years-old, and turned 100 on Wednesday 7 February.

"I'm very pleased to reach this age, but I am very fortunate that I'm not waiting or any operation, all I've got is arthritis. I'm very very lucky," said Mr Morgan.

"They've put a lot of work into getting this day going."

The Mayor of East Cheshire attended Mr Morgan's birthday. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Mr Morgan, now a Royal British Legion (RBL) Ambassador, was born in Longsight, Manchester, but now lives in Crewe in Cheshire.

He regularly speaks to schools and colleges about his experiences during World War Two.

"When you think about it, this being the 80th anniversary and Bernard being 100, he was 20 years old, to see the horrors of war, and he's still telling story of the friends he lost back then and we've got to keep this story going," said Nancy Kay, Branch Chair for the RBL in Crewe.

"Bernard loves going to the schools and talking to the children and telling his stories, and I've been there and the children love hearing his stories.

"He's keeping it alive, he's keeping these sacrifices by these young men, he's keeping these stories alive.

"They'll never be forgotten when Bernard's around."

The veteran hopes to return to Normandy with the Royal British Legion to mark D-Day 80 in June 2024, and attend the commemorations of the 80th anniversary of what happened in Normandy.

When asked about being a hero, Mr Morgan says the real heroes are the ones "who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy today".

Mr Morgan regularly speaks at schools, museums and to other groups about his experience. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Mr Morgan was a codebreaker during the war, using equipment which was so sensitive it could not be be captured by the enemy.

He landed on Gold Beach at 6.30pm on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

"The wireless operator you had on your watch were the same on every watch, they were youngsters just like me," he said.

"They called me Sergeant Morgan, the airman's friend.

"They're all buried in Normandy together, and I was putting a cross down at one of the graves.

"When I got up, a lady came to me and she said 'Do you know that airman?' and I said 'yes, he was one of my wireless operators' and she started crying on my shoulder.

"'I'm a relative she said, I'm so pleased that somebody else is looking after his grave' and I always think about these lads.

"Whenever I go anywhere, I think about the others but when you know them so well it upsets me."

Mr Morgan was one of the youngest RAF Sergeant to land in Normandy on D-Day. Credit: ITV Granada Reports

Two days before VE Day, Mr Morgan received a telex to say: “German war now over, surrender effective sometime tomorrow”.

On 8 May it was confirmed that the war in Europe had ended, he celebrated with his fellow soldiers.Mr Morgan still has the original telex, which has not given the document to any museums and even managed to keep it secret for 50 years.He left the RAF in February 1947 having originally volunteered on his 18th birthday in February 1942.

After the war, he worked on the railways and at Crewe Alexandra where he was a turnstile operator for 57 years.

He went on to sell programmes at Gresty Road until the Covid pandemic, but still has a season ticket for life.Mr Morgan was also a sportsman, and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 1,500m at the 1948 London Olympics, losing to Bill Nankeville, Bobby Davro's dad.

At his celebrations, Mr Morgan expressed his gratitude.

"I am so grateful to you," he said. "I appreciate the effort you've made and it's cheered me up no end. But whenever I attend any event, I always think of those sailors, soldiers airman, airwomen and the civilians who gave their lives for the freedom that we enjoy today,.

"Regarding the way the home have looked after me, they've been most kind to me and set up all these decorations and kept my in good health, I'm so grateful to the manager and all the staff."

Mr Morgan was joined by the Mayor of East Cheshire, representatives from the Royal Air Force and the Chairman, Charles Grant, and Manager, Lee Bell, from Crewe Alexandra to mark his special day.

"There is few survivors and Bernard is one of the special ones because of his memories, he remembers everything, he's a loving testament of the Kohima to the words that the British legion use every meeting and every remembrance service," said Nancy Kay, Branch Chair of for the Royal British Legion in Crewe.

"For those who don't know what the Kohima is, it starts with the words when you go home tell them of us and Bernard Morgan has been doing that for 50 years and is still doing it, and he's just a marvellous man."

Sheila Borrington, Mr Morgan's daughter, said the event was "lovely." Credit: ITV Granada Reports

His daughter, Sheila Borrington, also attended the event and said he is an ode to his service and the family,

She said: "It's absolutely wonderful for him, it's so lovely to see so many people coming to celebrate with him.

"He's such an inspiration to our family, to all of us but his war experiences have had a profound effect on his life and we speak to several groups and schools and dad always wants future generations to remember, but reconciliation is important as well to him.

"We cannot thank him enough for his service, and the service of others at that time."