D-Day 80 Stories

Stories and memories of those who served.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Middlemiss, Royal Army Service Corps

Father of Lieutenant Colonel Andy Middlemiss, veteran and Branch Chair SSAFA Perth & Kinross.

Peter was a regular soldier, joining up as Hitler was rattling his sabre in 1936. He joined the Royal Army Service Corps, and was to specialise in ambulance units in WWII. Later he became a bi-lingual Arabist, serving in the Sudan Defence Force, the Trans-Jordan Bedouin Legion, and the Sultan of Oman’s Armed Forces at the start of the Dhofar rebellion.

In WWII he found himself on the Dunkirk beaches in 1940 and was luckily (“Especially for me and my family!” adds Andy) rescued by one of the famed “Little Boats”.

Fast forward to 1944. Peter landed on Sword Beach with his wheeled ambulance convoy on D +1 day, on June 7 to take wounded off the beaches.

Peter then followed the fighting all the way up through North West Europe to the German surrender at Lunenberg Heath, finishing as an acting lieutenant colonel.

In the six years of WWII, Peter returned home twice: once after Dunkirk, and once to prepare for D-Day.

Post-war, he was involved in the atomic tests at Christmas Island. The MoD has recently awarded Peter another gong (his seventh) with the Nuclear Test Medal.

Peter passed away in 1999.



Driver William “Bill” Kennedy, Royal Engineers

Grandfather of Christie Lisle, SSAFA Regional Casework Manager


Christie did not know her grandfather, Driver Bill Kennedy MM of the Royal Engineers, but of his actions during and after D-Day, she writes:

“So, as so the story goes, he had to drive a truck full of explosives, under fire, while injured.

“He had a leg injury and his oppo had an arm injury, so between them, they had to navigate their way across Normandy, with my grandfather steering, and his oppo using the pedals. I have no idea how they managed it, but like I said, that’s the story.

“I’ve always pictured it to be a bit of a comedy skit, especially as he was quite a ‘jolly chap’ for a Glaswegian.

“I never knew him but those that did spoke so highly of him.”



Private Gwyneth Evans, Auxiliary Transport Service

Mother of Glin Horton, veteran and SSAFA Divisional Secretary

Probably the most famous member of the Auxiliary Transport Service (ATS) is Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, who was SSAFA’s Patron and during WWII a trained motor mechanic.

Working in a different role, with particular emphasis to the success of D-Day was Private Gwyneth Evans.

Gwyneth was born in Salford in 1925 and was a qualified tracer working in a draughtman’s office in Manchester before joining up in 1942.

Her skills and experience soon found a function in the war effort, and she became a tracer of maps and plans. This involved making copies of important documents by hand, carefully tracing over the original documents.

One set of plans and maps she worked on were for Operation Neptune, or D-Day as it became more commonly known.

The top-secret nature of her work and the importance of these documents is evidenced by my mother being held in quarantine under guard for a fortnight before the maps were released. She was livid as she wasn’t allowed to go out at night to the NAAFI with her friends!

Gwyneth remained in the ATS she married Henry (Harry) Horton in September 1945. Harry was a qualified engineer before enlisting in 1939. Initially in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), he transferred to the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) at its formation, from an existing branch of the RAOC. Harry was one of Monty’s Desert Rats, a member of REME British Recovery troops, whose job it was to retrieve tanks, armoured cars and other equipment from the battlefield, often under appalling conditions with bombs and shells raining down on them. Harry became REME’s first Artificer Quartermaster Sergeant.

In her later years, Gwyneth lived with Alzheimer’s, but this this never diminished her memories or took away her ability to remember features on the D-Day maps, and she could still recall all the names of the Normandy beaches. She remained rightly proud of the part she played in D-Day and how it led to victory in 1945.

Gwyneth died on September 22, 2011 – the 66th anniversary of her and Harry’s marriage.