Dulwich war veteran given France’s top honour – obituary

Bert Holmshaw, from Peckham, has died aged 96.

During the Second World War, Bert was in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers attached to the 7th Field Regiment Royal Artillery.

He saw action in North West Europe and was part of the main assault Division for SWORD Beach on D-Day, for which he was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest order of merit.

Born in Sheffield in 1924, Albert Holmshaw married Betty in 1949 and had two daughters, Christine, and Janet, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

After the war he was employed as a motor mechanic and later worked for the Ministry of Transport, as a Senior Vehicle Examiner.

This role led to work in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Kidderminster.

He eventually returned to the north to live in Mansfield when he retired.

Three and a half years ago Bert moved to live with his daughter, Janet, in Peckham and threw himself in to creating a new life in the south.

He was a popular member of Link Age Southwark and the local British Legion in East Dulwich.

Bert was a much-loved member of the ex-servicemen taken to Normandy by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans family.

He went with them to Normandy to mark D-Day in 2018 and 2019 with his daughters, as well as regularly attending the annual summer trip to Worthing and the Christmas party.

Before lockdown he would ensure he was out every day to different groups and activities and during lockdown he challenged himself to “up and downs” his name for climbing the stairs, so that when lockdown was lifted, he would be fit enough to get around.

Sadly, he never made it to the end of the ordeal.

Bert’s daughters, Janet Holmshaw and Christine Orton, said: “Our dad was a real gentleman, a good and loyal husband, a caring father, grandfather and great grandfather. He will be sadly and greatly missed.

“We have so many memories of our visits to Normandy.

“He always loved to go whenever he was able to and we were lucky to experience some of these trips with him.

“What we have taken most from our Normandy trips is the camaraderie of all the forces, both serving and veterans, and the high esteem in which the French, of all ages, hold each one of the veterans, coupled with the gratitude they show to them.”

A high spot of the trips for Bert and his family was to visit and be included in the celebrations of the first small village which he helped to liberate the day after the D-Day landings, Périers-sur-le-Dan, who hold their own memorial celebrations each year.

His daughters added: “We have always been proud of our dad, but on these occasions are overwhelmed by the courage of him and his fellow comrades. Heroes every one of them.”

The charity’s vice-president Dick Goodwin said: “When I spoke to Bert the first time, I was stunned when he told me he was a Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer Light Aid Detachment – attached to the same Field Reg (7th) my dad was in.

“He was a wealth of information on our trips back to Normandy talking about the early days after D-Day and where the Regiment’s guns were sited and taking us to small monuments I never even knew existed.

“He was a regular visitor to Périers-sur-le-Dan and the service held there every year on the 7th June to the men that were lost.

“It was always very emotional to be with Bert at the cemeteries visiting his fallen comrades. I will be eternally grateful to him for sharing his Second World War stories with me and being such a great friend.”

Veterans can find out more about support from the Taxi Charity at

Main Pic: Albert Holmshaw visiting the last resting place of his comrades in Normandy

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Everyone at the South London Press thanks you for your continued support.

Former Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing:


If you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can make a donation which will allow us to continue to bring stories to you, both in print and online. Or please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.