'It is incredible what he did' - Cousin of Gloucestershire D-Day veteran reflects on 80th anniversary

George Watkins remembering his cousin Vic Cooper, who took part in the D-Day landings 80 years ago on June 6 1944.
-Credit: (Image: Will Luker)

"A terrific personality" is how 94-year-old George Watkins remembers his cousin Vic Cooper, who played an instrumental role in the D-Day Normandy Landings 80 years ago today.

Now living in the Forest of Dean, but originally from Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds, George has vivid memories of the wartime aircraft in the sky when he was just a teenager. At the age of 14, he witnessed American tanks rumbling through Moreton and now, eight decades later, he still honours the memory of what his cousin Vic endured.

Vic joined the Ordnance Beach Group back in 1943, and at the age of 22, he would have been among the beach groups preparing for the Landings across various UK locations, including Scotland. These beach commandos were tasked with landing alongside the assault troops, setting up secure areas for the beach commander, and ensuring that both personnel and equipment could efficiently move through the beachhead..

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Beyond D-Day, Vic was part of the historic liberation of European countries from Nazi occupation and was then posted to Burma. Vic sadly passed away in 2014.

George said: "Vic was a terrific personality and I will never know what he went through as he was at the centre of something incredibly dangerous."

Vic Cooper
Vic Cooper -Credit:George Watkins

George was called up for the army after the Second World War in June 1950. He served as inspector of vehicles at 42 Ordnance supply depot at Moreton-on-Lugg, Herefordshire. George, who is a patron of the Royal British Legion in Longhope, served as Inspector of vehicles and took on a number of roles including being called for service in the 1956 Suez Crisis.

It is Vic's experiences of D-Day that will remain with George: "It is incredible what Vic did and he volunteered for everything. I didn't see much of him and he never really spoke about his experiences but he must have never forgot what he did."