When Covid restrictions meant that the Museum had to open its new WW2 exhibition virtually, a handful of WW2 Veterans, including D-Day Veteran Bill Wright, attended via a video call. Now, two months later Bill has been able to visit the exhibition in person.
Bill Wright, said, “I’m so pleased to have been able to visit the Museum and see the new exhibition, I think it’s wonderful.”
On visiting the Legacy section of WW2: War Stories, which features images of the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camps and a whip used by one of the camp guards, Bill recalled:
“I remember seeing the concentration camps being set on fire. There was a huge feeling of relief, knowing that they were being destroyed.”
At the age of 19, Bill Wright was the youngest soldier in his regiment, when the Staffordshire Yeomanry landed on Sword Beach at 10.30 am on D-Day, 6th June, 1944.
Bill remembered, “We were conscious we were making history”, as the Radio Operator and the rest of his crew landed in a Sherman tank prepared for deep wading.
Having survived the Normandy battles, Bill returned to England with his regiment to train on Sherman DDs at Fritton Lake, near Great Yarmouth. In October 1944, he took part in the amphibious landing on South Beveland in the Scheldt estuary, which opened up the port of Antwerp to Allied shipping.
This involved a “swim” of seven miles in the open estuary, a record for DD tanks which still stands.
His last major action was the Rhine crossing in March 1945, again in a Sherman DD. Shortly after landing his tank was knocked out, but thankfully all the crew survived and re-equipped with a 17-pdr Sherman Firefly which they kept until the final surrender that May.