A York D-Day veteran received two special guests to his home and said: “Crikey, it was something!”

Joseph Wood, who recently told The Press of his service on board a minesweeper on June 6, 1944, during the Normandy landings, was visited by the Lord Mayor of York and The Sheriff of York.

Inside the conservatory of the care home in Fulford where he lives, the 99-year-old spoke about his wartime experience and displayed citations and medals including the Légion d’honneur – France’s highest order of merit.

He said he told them how unpleasant things there were for him as an 18-year-old.


Joseph said of the meeting: “Crikey, it was something!

“I got a message from the home manager and she said ‘the Lord Mayor is coming’.

“Of course, I’m thinking she was coming to look around the home, but I still wore a suit I’ve not had on in years.”

Joseph said things have ‘been a whirlwind’ since the story of the 1944 campaign and his six months of service protecting shipping in the Atlantic convoy was reported.

Joseph Wood as a young manJoseph Wood as a young man (Image: Joseph Wood)

The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Margaret Wells, who attended with Sheriff of York Fiona Fitzpatrick, said: “It was a huge honour to meet Joseph and talk about his experiences and memories.

“We have a lot to learn from him.

“I found it difficult and humbling to imagine how it must have felt to be an eighteen- year-old facing the horrors of D-Day.

“We spoke about the many people who never made it back from Normandy, the sacrifices they all made and the hope they gave to millions of people across Europe living under oppression.

“This is a debt we can never hope to repay and one that we should never forget.” 

Joseph said he was pleased to know of the opening of an educational centre in Ver-sur-Mer, on the site of the British Normandy Memorial, intended to allow future generations to learn from the events of the summer of 1944.

Speaking to The Press earlier this month, Joseph said the main thing he remembered about D-Day was the noise - and the fear.

The 19-year-old was serving aboard a Royal Navy minesweeper clearing German mines from the approaches to Utah Beach so American forces could land.

Afterwards, he was told about the skies black with aircraft, and about the ranks of battleships far out to sea belching their missiles towards the beach.

But as a young engine room artificer, he saw none of that.

He was buried deep in the bowels of his little ship, which had a crew of just 34.

“We could hear it all, above the noise of the engine,” the 99-year-old said. “The battleships opened up, and we wondered ‘what the hell is going on?’

“I was right scared,” he said. “I was only 19. The frightening thing about being in the engine room was, you were battened down.

“The only way out was up a steel ladder to a watertight hatch. It was like a tomb. You could only hope that if anything went wrong, there would be somebody to open the hatch for you from the top.”