Aylesbury councillor recalls how his dad fought in two world wars ahead of D-Day festival trip

An Aylesbury councillor has been recalling how his father fought in two world wars, as he prepares to visit Normandy to take part in this year's D-Day festival event.

Sir Beville Stanier's father Brigadier Alexander Stanier was a British Army officer who fought in both world wars.

Brigadier Alexander Stanier

Brigadier Alexander Stanier

Alexander began serving in 1917 with the 1st Battalion of the Welsh Guards on the Western Front and within his first year was awarded the Military Cross for his actions during the Second Battle of Cambrai.

Alexander was recognised for conspicuous gallantry and able leadership when he rallied his platoon under heavy fire.

He was the 1st British Brigade Commander to land on D-Day and travelled in a plane alongside BBC news reporter Howard Marshall and a personal representative of King George VI which landed in France.

Sir Beville recalls: "Alexander stayed but the BBC reporter and the King's representative travelled back the same day.

"The King's representative gave King George a report and the king then telephoned my mother to say that all was well.

"My mother then rang the headmaster at the school where I was at and I can recall him passing on a message to me to say that everything was OK."

Alexander enjoyed a distinguished military career which threatened to come to an end when in 1943 he lost an eye after a soldier accidentally dropped a grenade.

He was passed 'medically fit' to continue operations and was promoted to colonel later in the year.

Alexander's other military honours throughout his career included being awarded a distinguished service order for his bravery and leadership during a two day operation in Boulogne.

He went on to lead an operation in 1944 to capture 'Gold Beach' in Arromanches.

After the British led a successful capture of the region, Alexander was proclaimed as a hero in the area.

A town square is named after him and a memorial to him stands in Arromanches today.

Alexander went to the 50th anniversary D-Day celebrations in France at the age of 95 and Beville recalls how getting there was not plain sailing for him.

He said: "Initially my dad was reluctant to go but he had a late change of heart.

"The British embassy forgot to organise the appropriate paperwork for him to go but the pilot of his plane very cleverly flew in low or below the radar.

"They managed to get below the radar and land successfully but it did mean my late father was part of an unauthorised entry!"

Beville recalls how his dad did not talk in great detail about his wartime experiences but said that he did muse about the lighter moments.

Beville will be flying to Normandy next week for the 75th anniversary D-Day celebrations on Thursday June 6.