Andrew Charles: Northern Ireland D-Day veteran dies aged 98

One of the last surviving Northern Ireland D-Day veterans, Andrew Charles, has sadly passed away at the age of 98.

Mr Charles, from Westland Road, Magherafelt, had a distinguished war record having served in the Royal Ulster Rifles during the Second World War before being seriously wounded in action.

Pre-deceased by his wife Cora, Mr Charles is survived by his son Paul, a crime writer, concert promoter, manager and talent agent, also daughter-in-law Catherine, nephews, nieces and family circle.

Mr Charles died in Antrim Area Hospital on Sunday after being admitted on Friday. He had celebrated his 98th birthday last month.

Andrew Charles pictured recently with his cousion Deborah Hetherington.
Andrew Charles pictured recently with his cousion Deborah Hetherington.
Andrew Charles pictured recently with his cousion Deborah Hetherington.

His cousin Deborah Hetherington, who was brought up in Magherafelt and now lives in Carrickfergus, said Andrew was fiercely independent and liked looking after himself. She said he would be greatly missed by his family and friends.

A funeral service will be held in St Comgall's Church of Ireland, Desertmartin, on Tuesday at 3pm, followed by burial in the adjoining churchyard.

Mr Charles first served with the Ulster Home Guard from 1941 in Desertmartin before going on to train with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Omagh a year later.

He served as a Rifleman in the Royal Ulster Rifles and landed in France on D-Day June 6 1944 and fought his way through Normandy, including a ferocious battle in Troarn.

Tragically his brother, Allen, was killed two days after landing.

Despite great personal risk, he helped take out two 7.5cm German guns which pinned back ‘B’ Company as they tried to take Sanneville. For this action he would later receive the Military Medal presented to him by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

Two months later while advancing through Europe he sustained serious wounds in Holland and ended up in a military hospital for treatment before being moved back to England and later Belfast.

On leaving the Army, he found employment with Northern Ireland Electricity and has been a loyal supporter of Magherafelt Branch Royal British Legion for many years.

On the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day or V.E. Day, Mr Charles received a visit from members of the Magherafelt Branch RBL.

He was also one of 40 Second World War veterans to be awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French government in 2016 for their heroics in the D-Day landings.

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