HISTORIAN and author David Rowe has kindly shared with the Leader his interview with Mold D-Day Veteran Donald (Don) Jones. Here is what Mr Jones had to tell him about his life...

June 6, 2019, saw the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings of Allied Forces on the beaches of Normandy.

The combined services operation codenamed ‘Operation Overlord’ saw landings on a 60 mile stretch of coastline in five zones.

Their names have become etched in military history; Omah, Gold, Juno, Sword and Utah.

Over 11,500 aircraft, 6,800 vessels of all types, resulted in 175,000 men being landed on the beaches during the first day.

Casualties were high, with over 4,400 confirmed dead on the Allied side.

Over the following weeks and months the Royal Navy played a major part in transporting men and materials between Britain and France, and following completion of his training Don was posted to a Landing Craft Tank (LCT).

Born in Mold in 1925, Don initially went to the Board School, Glanrafon, Mold.

A bright pupil, he passed the scholarship for the Alun Grammar School.

However, he elected to attend Flint Central School to be with his cousin, Tom Warburton.

As perhaps an indication as to his future, Don joined the Gwernymynydd Scout Troop at age 11 or 12.

The two Scoutmasters were the Waln Brothers, and meetings were held at their family home, Fron Hall.

The Waln family also provided uniforms for those scouts whose families could not afford to buy them.

Don left school at the age of 14, and had a number of jobs before enrolling in the Royal Navy.

Initially he worked for Price the Ironmonger whose shop was at the Cross, then he moved onto the offices of Crossville Motor Services and finally he worked for Jack Kemp, landlord of the Royal Oak in New Street.

From an early age Don always had a yearning to join the Royal Navy.

However, enrolment of boy sailors at age 15 was stopped on the outbreak of war and he had to wait a few more years to fulfil his ambition.

Not one to just let the years pass by Don, at the age of 15, became one of the founder members of Mold Air Training Corps.

While he particularly enjoyed the two week camps at RAF Hawarden and the flights in trainer planes, the desire to join the Royal Navy never left him.

So in 1942, at the age of 17, he presented himself to the Royal Navy’s recruitment office in Wrexham.

Meeting all the necessary requirements, he was finally called up on January 19, 1943, and was sent to the shore training establishment at Torpoint, Cornwall, H.M.S. Raleigh.

Within his training group was one trainee from Flint and another from Mold.

Strangely, he never met any of his training group throughout his naval service.

After 10 weeks basic training followed by seven days leave, he was posted to HMS Drake at Plymouth.

He applied for a gunnery course and was sent to H.M.S. Queen Charlotte in Southport.

Passing out as an AA3 Gunner meant extra money, which he believed was 3d per day.

Reaching 18 years of age brought an extra benefit, he could have the traditional navy tot of rum.

For the teetotal they could claim 3d per day in lieu of the rum.

Don’s naval career saw him posted to LCT ships and he saw service on three different vessels.

On D-Day, the ship arrived on Sword Beach around 8am and over the following two months they made 15-20 crossings, landing on all five beaches.

As the RAF had control of the skies and although they had to be remain vigilant for attacks by U-Boats, ground fire from the shore batteries posed the greatest threat to their safety.

He explained: "In one incident a shell from a German shore battery passed me by six to eight feet, but only two feet above my crouching number two gunner on the port side gun.

"It went straight through the closed wheelhouse door, and out of the bulkhead on the starboard side before hitting the guardrail and disappearing into the sea.

"We assume this was a dud as it failed to explode and we only suffered two injuries.

"My number two gunner, whose head it passed over, temporarily lost his hearing, while the Starboard gun number two received a shrapnel wound to his shoulder and was taken off the ship.

"After the first couple of weeks, shell fire from the coastal batteries was minimal but we did need to keep a watch for U-Boats."

On their third trip they were required to bring prisoners back, and Don estimated that on the three occasions they were required to do so, a total of around 500 prisoners were brought back.

Posted to a Landing Craft Administration Ship (LCQ), Don spent the remaining period of the war, approximately nine months, in the middle and Far East.

Among the decorations awarded to Don in recognition of his service, was the Legion d’Honneur (Chevalier) medal.

This order was initially instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, and was presented to Allied troops in World War II from a grateful French nation.

Finally demobbed in December 1946, Don did consider re-enlisting into the Navy but instead volunteered, with a friend, to join the Palestine Police Force.

His friend was accepted, but Don failed to make the minimum height requirement by 1/8th inch, and by then he had met his future wife. Marriage followed in 1947, and he finally accepted that a civilian life was for him.

At that time long working hours saw him working 11 hour night shifts, six days a week at Courtaulds, Flint, before moving to ICI Rhydymwyn and then 14 years at Synthite, Denbigh Road, Mold. With the building of the Queen’s Park estate in Mold, he opened a newsagents in the newly built shops in Elm Drive.

Passing the shop onto his son, Keith, he didn’t retire immediately as he was involved in various work schemes throughout Mold.

Finally, around 1980, he decided to take it a little easier and follow some of his other interests.

The Royal British Legion organised a commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and Don was one of the 260 veterans chosen to take part.

There was a Guard of Honour which saluted veterans as they passed through the two lines of the service personnel. Among the other surprises was the arrival of Rod Stewart and his wife, Penny.

Mr Rowe said: "Despite approaching his 95th birthday and with mobility issues, Don retains his positive attitude to life and sense of humour.

"I have only known Don for the last 20 years, but have always outgoing with a happy disposition.

"For those like me born after the war we must never forget the sacrifices Don and his generation made to rid the world of the Nazi evil."