A LEADING Normandy veteran from York has died aged 89, just months before the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings.
Ken Bell, who chaired the York branch of the Normandy Veterans Association for a decade, was given a fitting farewell at York Crematorium yesterday.
A piper played Black Bear - the regimental march of the Black Watch - which Ken served with, and fellow veterans raised their standards in a guard of honour as his coffin, draped with the Union flag, was carried in. At the end of the service, a bugler played the Last Post.
His son Ken paid tribute during the service to a "man of immense integrity and stature... a man of great humility and humanity and honour."
Later his daughter Janet said that her father, who was born and brought up in Malton but lived in recent years in Poppleton and Wigginton, had joined the army as a boy soldier aged 17 and was involved in the D-Day landings and the following push to Germany.
"He was wounded in October 1944 in Holland and repatriated back to England to convalesce in York where he met his future wife Marjorie. This very nearly did not happen as, waiting in hospital to be transported to England, he was placed on transport earmarked for Canada!"
She said it transpired that a wounded Canadian soldier of the same name had been waiting to be sent back to Canada and they had both been put on the wrong transport.
Although he was seriously wounded in his arm and hand, he forged a great working career, with many positions in the building industry and was a Freemason.
"He will be greatly missed by all, particularly his family - his son Kenneth and partner Amanda, myself and my husband Mike, his grand children Andrew, Nick, James, Victoria and great grand children, Jack, Charlie, Oliver and Cassandra."