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Sittingbourne D-Day veteran had shrapnel in his head for 75 years


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A D-Day veteran from Sittingbourne who carried a piece of shrapnel in his forehead for 75 years has died at the age of 98.

Great-great-grandfather Gordon Frank Holland also worked as a quantity surveyor for what was then Swale Rural District Council until the early 1960s and had a hand in the building of many council houses in the area.

D-Day veteran Gordon Holland from Sittingbourne has died aged 98
D-Day veteran Gordon Holland from Sittingbourne has died aged 98

Mr Holland was born on March 7, 1923, and grew up in Shortlands Road. During his youth he played cricket and football for local amateur teams.

He tried to join the Army when he was 17 but was discharged because he was under-age. He re-enlisted in 1941 when he became 18 and joined the Royal Army Service Corps, now the Royal Logistics Corps.

By 1944 he had been promoted to sergeant and took part in the Allied D-Day landings on the Normandy beaches on June 6, immortalised in the film The Longest Day.

His role was to ensure the Front Line soldiers were fed essential supplies.

Mr Holland remained in the Army for seven years having advanced through France, Belgium and Holland to Germany.

Sittingbourne D-Day veteran Gordon Holland was awarded the French Legion of Honour in the Second World War
Sittingbourne D-Day veteran Gordon Holland was awarded the French Legion of Honour in the Second World War

His final position was in Berlin at the start of the Cold War.

His daughter Jane Heyes said: “He didn’t tell us very much about the war but he did tell a story about sitting down to eat Christmas dinner in Holland.

“The soldiers became aware of a row of eyes of some very hungry Dutch children looking at them and ended up inviting them in to share the food.”

She added: “He carried a piece of shrapnel in his forehead for 75 years.”

After the war, he joined the Civil Defence and was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government.

The D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944, were the largest combined land, air and naval operations in history. Photo supplied by Shutterstock
The D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944, were the largest combined land, air and naval operations in history. Photo supplied by Shutterstock

He met his wife Hanora during the Second World War when she was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

The couple were married for 72 years until Hanora died in 2013. They had four children. Mr Holland was a great-great-grandfather.

After working for Swale council he moved to Malling in the early 1960s and joined Malling Rural District Council, which later became Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.

He stayed with them until the early 1980s when he retired as building manager. He had been in charge of the repairs and maintenance of all council houses and public buildings in the area.

Following his retirement he moved back to Sittingbourne.

Practising for D-Day landings. Image: Kent At War
Practising for D-Day landings. Image: Kent At War

His daughter said: “He lived a happy, healthy life until June of this year when he had to move to Woodstock Care Home.”

She added: “They looked after him with care and dignity until his death.”

Mr Holland died on November 5, aged 98.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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