St Helens councillor pays tribute to D-Day veterans on 75th anniversary

Newton-le-Willows and District Veterans Association
Newton-le-Willows and District Veterans Association

A St Helens councillor has paid tribute to the “brave local men” who fought in the Normandy landings on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces invaded Normandy to begin the liberation of Nazi-occupied France.

Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron

Councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron

Around 4,400 from the combined allied forces died on the first day of the invasion, known as D-Day. Thousands of French civilians and German soldiers also died.

The Normandy landings are widely regarded as the largest combined land, air and naval operation in history, and laid the foundations for the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Today (Thursday), the Queen and 15 world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, will join hundreds of veterans in Portsmouth to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

No major commemoration events have been organised in St Helens.

St Helens councillor Seve Gomez-Aspron, elected member for Newton-le-Willows, paid tribute to those who fought in the D-Day landings.

Coun Gomez-Aspron, President of the Newton-le-Willows and District Veterans Association, revealed his great grandfather Les Zorn and brother Frank Chadwick were part of the 13th (Lancashire) Parachute Battalion, which played a crucial role in the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

Frank later died during the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front.

“75 years ago, brave men in the South Lancashire Regiment, 1st Battalion were preparing to take part in the allied invasion of Normandy,” Coun Gomez-Aspron said.

“The South Lancashire Regiment was made up of brave men from towns and villages such as Newton-le-Willows, St Helens, Warrington, Haydock, Wigan, Ashton, Leigh and so on.

“The invasion was delayed until the 6th due to issues around logistics and poor weather.

“As an infantry division, they fought in some of the most brutal battles of the Second World War and after Normandy, fought through to Paris and the Ardenne.

“Combined with that, the 13th Battalion South Lancs Paras, again made up of brave local men, were dropped behind enemy lines to protect bridges, destroy battlements and eventually take Caen.

“I’m proud to say that my great granddad Les Zorn and his brother Frank Chadwick were amongst those Paras. Both went on to fight at the Battle of the Bulge, where Frank was sadly killed.”

Coun Gomez-Aspon also took to Twitter to commemorate the local heroes who fought in the D-Day landings.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Coun Gomez-Aspon said: “We should always honour and remember both past and current servicemen and women and the sacrifice they make to protect us from fascism and oppression.

“I look forward to seeing the commemorations for the 75th anniversary and as we remember the local and national contribution of brave local men, say “lest we forget”.”