D-Day hero who carried wounded soldier for two miles dies aged 100

·3-min read
G188. FIFTY YEARS ON FORMER SOLDIER DENIS BOUNSALL RETURNS TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED, THE FORMER ARMY BARRACKS IN DORCHESTER. PIC BY GEOFF MOORE.020604. (we 03/06/04)
G188. FIFTY YEARS ON FORMER SOLDIER DENIS BOUNSALL RETURNS TO WHERE IT ALL STARTED, THE FORMER ARMY BARRACKS IN DORCHESTER. PIC BY GEOFF MOORE.020604. (we 03/06/04)

A D-DAY hero who carried a wounded soldier over his shoulder for two miles while under fire has died aged 100.

Denis Bounsall, who enlisted in the Dorsetshire Regiment as a 'boy soldier' aged 15, also once took two enemy soldiers prisoner wielding just a pair of scissors.

He served as a stretcher bearer during the two year Siege of Malta and then at Normandy, Holland and Germany in the Second World War.

Denis, of the Dorsetshire Regiment, had a lucky escape when a large shell landed next to him but did not go off.

He earned a prestigious Distinguished Conduct Medal, second only to the Victoria Cross, with his citation telling of his 'absolute disregard for his personal safety'.

Tributes were paid to the veteran who passed away in Auckland, New Zealand where he emigrated to in 1952.

A spokesman for The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester, said: "It's with great sadness that we announce Denis Bounsall DCM, a devoted veteran of the Dorsetshire Regiment, has died aged 100.

"We bid farewell to one of the last survivors of D-Day and a great friend of the museum.

"One of just 1,879 soldiers awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal in the Second World War, Denis took part in three assault landings in eleven months, having originally enlisted for the army in 1936.

"As a member of the 1st Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment, Denis won his DCM for incredible bravery under enemy fire in Agira, Sicily, during which he collected casualties with a team of stretcher-bearers 'with absolute disregard of his personal safety', returning to collect casualties under heavy fire as described in his DCM citation.

"Denis settled in New Zealand after the war and remained an active member of the regimental community.

"We will remember Denis as a brave soldier, keen artist and friend."

After the war Denis became a talented artist and designed and made stained glass windows.

In 2004, on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, he returned to the Normandy town of Asnelles, where he landed on June 6, 1944, to present the local community with a stained glass panel carrying his regiment's crest.

Denis was born in Bristol in 1921 and joined the Dorset Regiment in 1936.

He served in Egypt and India before spending four years in Malta, which became 'the most bombed place on earth' as it was flattened by the Luftwaffe.

The whole island was awarded the George Cross for their exceptional resilience.

Denis returned to England to train at Studland Bay in preparation for the Allied invasion.

He landed at Gold Beach at 8am on D-Day and said of his experience: "We were under constant fire and my job was just to pick people up as they fell.

"It was nothing glamorous - it was just a job, that is all.

"Obviously I was unarmed and could not take cover and I saw my mates wounded - it was a matter of life and death for them.

"But you don't worry about that when you're in that sort of situation.

"I would just listen out for the screams around me and do what I could to assist."

Denis remained with the regiment as they progressed across France into Holland and Germany.

He was called back to Britain to train troops preparing to fight the Japanese, and then stationed in Germany from 1945 to 1948.

In later life, he was a saxophonist in a jazz band and worked as a professional musician and artist.

Denis received the Legion D'Honneur, France's highest gallantry award, in Auckland in 2016.

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