ONE extraordinary story of a soldier who took part in the D-Day landings has emerged from Ogbourne St George near Marlborough.

Anthony Hawnt said his father Pte Benedict Hawnt (known as Ben) took part in the operation having survived the battle of El Alamein in 1942 in Egypt and went on to volunteer and survive Operation Market Garden in Holland later in 1944 - the failed attempt to leapfrog the German lines in Holland.

He said: "Benedict was only 23 years old when the war ended and he had experienced much more than any of us do our lifetimes.

"As a young man he took part in the first second and third Battles of El Alamein in 1942.

"It was a great victory that signposted the way and sounded the death knell of the German army.

"After the 1943 Battle of the Mareth Line in Tunisia dad volunteered for airborne forces and after training was posted to the ninth parachute Battalion. On D-Day The 9th Battalion was given the task of attacking taking and destroying the Melville battery on the cliffs of Normandy.

"This battery was shelling the ships and the beaches which were being invaded by our troops.

"At Merville out of a battalion strength of 600 only 150 men made the rendezvous. Ben was one of those 150 British soldiers who with virtually no weapons took their objective and removed the threat to the Royal Navy and the soldiers landing on the beach below.

"Ben was wounded on this occasion and the number of parachute soldiers still active had been reduced to 80.

"For his bravery on this occasion he was mentioned in dispatches which I’m sure today would have warranted a much higher award.

"As a wounded man Ben was sent back to England for medical treatment. When he recovered from his wounds he was posted to two para battalion, the first airborne division.

"When Arnhem was planned (Operation Market Garden) Ben was told that he could opt out as he had dropped on D day but Ben being Ben volunteered to go. As it is now well documented this operation did not go as planned and there were vast casualties.

"I am told that only 20 men from the parachute regiment took part in both the D Day and Arnhem operations and Ben was one of them and survived.

"For this Ben was awarded the British Empire medal.

"I am so proud of my father who never talked about these things while he was alive."

"I ask you to remember on this day, June 6, as we enjoy our freedoms and liberties a figure moving in a single file of men dressed in combat fatigues towards a Dakota aircraft ready to open the second front in Europe."