Funeral takes place of 95-year-old D-Day veteran from Keynsham

  • Watch Victoria Davies' report

A D-Day veteran from Keynsham who nearly lost his life in Normandy has been given a soldier's funeral, complete with bugler and piper.

The coronavirus pandemic meant only a few people could attend the ceremony for Ken Turner in Bath on Thursday 3 December, but it was streamed online.

A piper led the funeral cortege, while a bugler played The Last Post at the service at Haycombe Crematorium. Credit: ITV West Country

95-year-old Ken Turner died at Bristol Royal Infirmary on 9 November, just days before he had been due to send a poppy wreath for the Paddington war memorial on Armistice Day.

His wreath still journeyed to London in his memory.

Ken Turner lied about his age and joined the army when he was only 16. Credit: Family

Ken was lucky to survive the war.

He was a radio operator in the Royal Tank Regiment when his tank was destroyed by a plane in Normandy in 1944.

He was injured but the other two men in his crew were killed.

Speaking in 2019 he said: "My tank took a direct hit, two crew members died instantly and I don't know to this day how I survived because the tank was blown to smithereens. Seeing my two comrades lying there you're haunted by the looks on their faces."

In this video he talks about that moment:

Ken said that German pilot's action led to him meeting his wife in hospital back in the UK.

He recovered from his injuries to see action in Naples, Italy, where he operated Churchill Arc tanks to provide bridges for the advance of Allied troops.

Ken met his wife Betty when he was recovering from injury - they married soon after the war. Credit: Family

When the Germans surrendered, he was flown back the UK ready to fight the Japanese but on his arrival he got the news that the war was over.

He never forgot his service and later in life became chair of the Bristol Normandy Veterans Association but his son Paul said he was devoted to his family.

RIP Ken Turner, 24 February 1925 - 9 November 2020 Credit: Family

Paul Turner said: "Dad spent the last 15 years at least dedicating his life to the Bristol Normandy Veterans. As a result he became very well known and very well liked. He arranged so many special events for the veterans.

"He couldn't have put more of his life into the veterans but as a family man he was a man who fell deeply in love with my mother when he was wounded during the war and as a result dedicated his life to her. His family and my mother were his life."

Ken had a son, Paul, and a daughter, Carole. His wife Betty died in 1999.

Ken Turner's final journey. Credit: ITV West Country

In 2019, the former soldier was among 300 veterans to travel to Normandy by ship for a series of remembrance events to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

He said he hoped it would be a lesson to make sure such a war never happened again.

Donations made in memory of Ken are going to the Bristol Normandy Veterans to pay for a bench at the Normandy Memorial which is due to be opened in June 2021.

Find out more about the fundraising campaign here.