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11th November 2023
D-Day Veteran, 98, honours Remembrance Day as charity prepares to mark battles’ 80th anniversary
As the country prepares to fall silent this Remembrance Day, a Scottish war veteran who played a vital role in the historic D-Day landings has paid tribute to those that gave their lives, ahead of the battle’s 80th anniversary.
Albert Lamond, 98, is cared for by Erskine Veterans Charity at their Veterans Village in Bishopton, Renfrewshire. Veterans, residents, and carers across Erskine’s network of homes will come together on November 11th to remember the brave servicemen and women who gave their lives in conflict. The charity honours their memory every day by providing crucial post-military support to 1,000 Veterans and their spouses.
Albert’s mind will be firmly focused on the events of June 6, 1944, which he watched from the sea as the battle raged on the beaches of Normandy – an event which marked the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi occupation.
Having joined the Royal Navy in 1943, Albert was just 18 years old and serving as a signalman on the HMS Rowley, as part of the 3rd Escort Group, when it was designated to rendezvous with the HMS Warspite as it travelled to Normandy.
The HMS Roley’s role was to circle the Warspite whilst she was shelling German positions. Albert and his crew were constantly watching for U-Boats looking to torpedo the warship, acting as a first line of defence as the Allies launched their assault on sea, land, and air. As signalman, Albert was on the lookout from the bridge throughout the battle, with no cover to defend him. The horrors that he witnessed have lived with him ever since.
He said: “D-Day was something different. It is still very difficult to talk about. It wasn’t very nice – you could say that. We could see all the men trying to get ashore, not knowing what was waiting for them. All we could do was watch, hoping to defend as many of them as we possibly could. We understood the importance of what we were doing and why we had to do it. But it didn’t make it any better.
“It lives with you forever, but it doesn’t get any easier. I went back to Normandy a few years ago, that was difficult but also a real honour. Realistically, there can’t be many of us left. When I looked out at the beaches, I thought to myself, how many of us are still here? Did all those men see the war through? Did anything happen to my crew after D-Day? I wonder what direction their lives took. There are constantly on my mind, not just on Remembrance Day, but every single day.”
A celebrated career in the Royal Navy saw Albert awarded many medals from his years of service, including the Arctic Star, which commemorated the Arctic Convoys that sailed from North Russia, and the Légion d’honneur, awarded by the French government to D-Day veterans, as a way of honouring and thanking those who fought and risked their lives to secure France’s liberation during the Second World War.
When Albert left the Navy in the years following WWII, he took a month off before getting a job on the railway. He worked in the Polmadie engine rooms and thought he would “see how it goes”, however ended up retiring some 40 years later as a railway driver.
He initially attended the Erskine Reid Macewen Activity Centre before moving into The Erskine Home, set within Erskine’s Veterans’ Village earlier this year.
Albert added: “The work that Erskine does for so many Veterans is amazing. Without Erskine, many Veterans would struggle either post-service or in later life. I cannot speak highly enough of what they have done for me.
“They have provided me with a level of care that is second to none and given me the opportunity to make friends and met people who have shared similar experiences. They truly support our Veterans, regardless of age and background, and I would encourage anyone to support them if they can.”
As a charity, Erskine relies on the generosity of supporters to maintain its commitment to care for Scotland’s Veterans – without donations it simply cannot continue this work. However, to do so Erskine must raise around £10 million annually to maintain the level of high-quality care provided.
Wing Commander Ian Cumming MBE, Erskine Chief Executive, said: "It is our privilege and duty to honour and support heroes like Albert Lamond, who selflessly risked their lives for our freedom. As we approach the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by an entire generation. We are dedicated to ensuring that their needs are met, and their stories are never forgotten, whilst also expanding our services to support younger Veterans of more recent conflicts."
For more information about the Veterans Charity and their mission to support veterans like Albert, please visit: www.erskine.org.uk/futures-for-the-brave