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D-Day hero from Wisbech dies aged 94



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One of Wisbech’s few remaining D-Day veterans has died at the age of 94.

Ronald Sanderson, who together with two other veterans of the Normandy landings the late Gerald Fleming and John Macintosh, was awarded the Freedom of Wisbech in December 2017 to commemorate their war time bravery.

Ron, who suffered a short battle with cancer, leaves a wife Anne and two children, Jane and Charles and two grandchildren James and Sian.

Ron and Anne on a visit organised by the RBL to Normandy he is pictured beside the monument to his regiment. (43293052)
Ron and Anne on a visit organised by the RBL to Normandy he is pictured beside the monument to his regiment. (43293052)

Ron who died on Saturday November 20 was born in West Parade, Wisbech in 1926 and had four brothers and three sisters, He married Anne at St Augustine's Church in August 1952. His brother Ted said that he didn't see much of the wedding ceremony as he and his brother Ralph had to get under the church organ and pump the bellows so that music could be played as the bellows had broken down.

Ron became an apprentice butcher working for Dewhust's in his early working life and remained in the butcher trade for the rest of his working days.

From left: Gerald Fleming, John McIntosh and Ronald Sanderson were awarded the Freedom of Wisbech in 2017.
From left: Gerald Fleming, John McIntosh and Ronald Sanderson were awarded the Freedom of Wisbech in 2017.

His war time exploits saw him swap life as a butcher for that of a soldier with the 11th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and his way up to Caen following the D-Day landings.

Ron fought mainly in Holland in the battle for the liberation of Europe as the Second World War slowly drew it its conclusion.

He recounted his experience in an interview in October 2017 with Jessie Tindale and Leonard Veenendaal in a lead up to receiving the Freedom of the Town.

Ron Sanderson in his army days. (43293056)
Ron Sanderson in his army days. (43293056)

He said: “The RAF was a Godsend, really. They came and bombed it all, but the Germans found ways of hiding in the rubble.”

Ron went on to tell how the people came out to greet them, throwing flowers in their path.

After the war ended in Europe Ron’s regiment was sent to Burma. In August 1945 the atom bomb was dropped on Japan ending the Pacific campaign and they were diverted to India, where he stayed until his service ended.

Ron pictured centre chats to the Duke of Gloucester during his visit to St Augustine's Church. Also pictured is fellow veteran John Mcintosh. (43293050)
Ron pictured centre chats to the Duke of Gloucester during his visit to St Augustine's Church. Also pictured is fellow veteran John Mcintosh. (43293050)

Ron was involved in many battles for which he was decorated and his many medals include one of France’s top military honours, the French medal Ordre National de la Legion d’honneur (knight in the National Legion of Honour) for his role in the D-Day landings in Normandy in 1944.

Ron said it was an honour to receive his medals, but “it’s the memories that hurt now”.

Following the war Ron finally returned home and returned to being a butcher. He was very proud of his military service and was a very active member of the Royal British Legion and was the Wisbech branch president.

Ron in the Mulberry Harbour Museum in France, pictured with the curator who had never met a veteran with a 'Bear' on his jacket. (43293054)
Ron in the Mulberry Harbour Museum in France, pictured with the curator who had never met a veteran with a 'Bear' on his jacket. (43293054)

Both he and Anne contributed a lot of time and effort fundraising for the Poppy Appeal and other charities raising very substantial amounts of money.

Toby North, chairman of Wisbech RBL said: "The branch was very proud to have Ron as its President and held him in high esteem as one of the last surviving members of the D-Day Landings.

"Ron will be very much missed but never forgotten, the branch owe it to him to ensure that Anne would be looked after and supported in the coming years. Rest in peace Ron your duty is done and it's time to to fallout and stand down."

Ron's funeral will be on December 10 at St Augustine's and will be family and invited guests only as per covid-19 rules.



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