Sheffield D-Day hero Charlie Hill dies aged 91

Charlie Hill
Charlie Hill

Tributes have been paid to Sheffield D-Day veteran Charlie Hill, who has died at the age of 91.

Mr Hill, from Gleadless, died on Thursday morning following a period of ill-health.

Charlie Hill in his army days

Charlie Hill in his army days

The great-grandfather and retired parks groundsman was just 19 years old when he took part in the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.

Mr Hill was the last surviving member of the Green Howards battalion that landed on D-Day and was married to his German wife Betty.

Graham Askham, secretary of the Normandy Veterans group in Sheffield, said: "I only met him about three years ago but got very close to him.

"As a person, he was a very gentle sort of man and very mild-mannered.

Charlie Hill by the Stanley Hollis memorial

Charlie Hill by the Stanley Hollis memorial

"But he was very quietly proud of what he was part of in 1944 and he had got a hell of a lot of stories he could tell.

"He survived a booby-trapped toilet, a bullet through his helmet and the sinking of a dinghy when they were crossing a canal in Holland."

Mr Askham said Mr Hill had been suffering with ill-health and had heart surgery at the turn of the year.

But he said he had managed to take part in a special ceremony to receive the French Legion of Honour earlier this year, as well as managing to return to the beaches of Normandy in June.

Mr Askham said: "He took part in a ceremony on the beach where he landed which was Gold Beach.

"I had the honour to stand alongside him on the beach where he landed.

"He has not been a well man for a long time but he just seemed to muster enough strength to get his Legion of Honour and to attend the commemorations in Normandy.

"That was Charlie - somebody the city of Sheffield should be proud of."

Last year Mr Hill was ,the guest of honour at the unveiling of a memorial to a comrade he fought alongside who was dubbed ‘the man they couldn’t kill’.
He fought alongside Stanley Hollis, the only soldier to win a Victoria Cross on D-Day, and unveiled a statue in his honour in Middlesbrough last year.

Speaking to The Star in 2014 on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Mr Hill said: “I was 19 that day, just a lad, and setting sail for France I thought I was playing cowboys and Indians. I soon grew up. The next 24 hours turned you from being a boy to a man.

“Because I was young I got through it. It was the older chaps who broke down - men in their mid-20s with wives at home.

"They were the ones whose nerves went.

“But we were infantrymen, at the front. We had to keep moving forward, no going back.

“Morale was good as we set sail from Southampton. We were singing songs and were given a photo of what the beach would look like. We were told the RAF would be dropping 200 tonnes of bombs on a lighthouse to the left of our beach - but when we arrived it was still standing.

“Our Landing Craft Assault boats were lowered from the ship seven miles from the beaches, and as our LCAs got close to shore we had to jump off, each man carrying something. I had to carry three-foot mortar shells. The sea was choppy, and the first chap out of our craft drowned. He was a sergeant named Hill like me.

“It was chaotic on the beach. We’d been told to follow this particular path - but in the mayhem nobody followed any path. Everyone just wanted to get off there as fast as they could. And somehow I got off the beach all right.

“The next day, June 7, we were bombed by three American Typhoons – what they call ‘friendly fire’ now. We lost all our medical staff, all of them, killed.”