Wolverhampton's Normandy war hero dies aged 97 one day after his wife

One of the region's last surviving Second World War Normandy veterans has died one day after his beloved wife.

Geoff Ensor, with his Legion of Honour medal
Geoff Ensor, with his Legion of Honour medal

Geoff Ensor, from Wolverhampton, was a sub-lieutenant and landing craft commander in the Royal Navy and went ashore on Sword Beach two days after D-Day in 1944, when he was just 20 years old.

The war hero spoke of his lucky escape soon after he arrived in France. "I consider June 24, 1944 as my lucky day as I woke up to see HMS Swift sunk and another ship sinking within a few hundred metres of my own," he said.

"This happened after four days worth of storms which we all got through, only to have to bring two boats worth of casualties on board the next day."

Geoff and his wife, Betty, lived on Finchfield Lane in Merry Hill, and had lived in Castlecroft for many years.

Family friends believe they met through the Royal Navy as Betty was a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service, affectionately dubbed the Wrens, and the couple went on to have two sons.

Geoff with his wife, Betty, who was a petty officer in the WRNS, taken in 1957.
Geoff Ensor served as a boat officer with the Royal Marines in Normandy
Geoffrey's France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, Victory Medal and his Legion of Honour Medal

Geoff was a friend to many ex-service personnel in the area and was an instrumental member of the Normandy Veterans Association as well as the Fellowship of the Services.

And he was a close friend of Major Bernard Pearson, who was a chaplain for ex-servicemen and frequently visited widows and ill soldiers. When Bernard died, Geoff took over his responsibilities.

Eunice Parry, Bernard's daughter, said: "Geoff was a very kind person, he visited my father a lot when he was very ill.

"After my father died, he visited my mother every week, and was a guest at her 90th and 100th birthday.

"He was also an accomplished organist but sadly I never heard him play. He was cheerful and kind, and a great friend to our family."

Geoffrey Ensor wearing his medals
Geoffrey Ensor and Alan Rochelle, visiting Sword Beach for the D-day 60th anniversary celebrations
Geoffrey Ensor on Sword Beach, where he landed all those years ago

Geoff returned to Normandy with veterans for the 60th anniversary of D-Day, and went back again for the 70th milestone on a trip organised by advertising executive Trevor Beattie.

It was on this visit Geoff and three other Midlands members of the Normandy Veterans Association looked down on the beaches from the sky, as small aircraft flew them over the sand the Allied forces landed on on that fateful day in 1944.

In 2016, Geoff was one of 20 former servicemen from Wolverhampton honoured with the Legion D'Honneur, France's highest military award for bravery, for his part in the Normandy landings and the liberation of France.

Betty Ensor died at the age of 96. Geoff died one day later, aged 97.

Geoff and Betty will have a joint funeral this Thursday at 3.30pm in Gornal Wood Crematorium.

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