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Sisters pay their resects to hero father

The daughters of Sergeant Richard Robson, Norma and Jean, attend their father's grave at Ranville cemetery as part of the D-Day anniversary. Picture by John Tuttiett Photography

The daughters of Sergeant Richard Robson, Norma and Jean, attend their father's grave at Ranville cemetery as part of the D-Day anniversary. Picture by John Tuttiett Photography

  • by John Tuttiett
 

A former Blyth bricklayer who joined the airborne forces during the Second World War and rose to the rank of sergeant, was with the first contingent of British parachutists that landed in France in the early hours of June 6, 1944.

However, Sergeant Richard Robson’s war did not last much longer.

He was one of the many early casualties of the battle to gain two bridges over the river Orne.

Sgt Robson, 27, landed near Ranville with other members of the 5th Parachute Brigade after they had jumped from their converted Stirling bombers in the early hours of the morning.

Their mission was to secure both Pegasus Bridge and another bridge to ensure that the rest of the invasion force due to be landed on the beaches in the coming hours were able begin their advance into France.

Today, in the beautiful churchyard in the village of Ranville, a number of British servicemen are buried in a series of graves around the churchyard wall.

They were buried early in the conflict and their families requested they remained where they lay, despite a massive Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery being established a few hundred yards away

Members of Sgt Robson’s family, daughters Norma and Joan, travelled to France last week to take part in the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and to lay a wreath at their father’s grave.

They were met at the gates of the cemetery by members of 1110 Squadron Air Cadets from Ashington, who formed a guard of honour guard as the two sisters entered the cemetery and they then escorted them to Sgt Robson’s graveside.

The sisters were also present at a luncheon given by the townspeople in the presence of Prince Charles, Colonel in Chief of the Parachute Regiment, and Camilla.

The Ashington cadets almost did not make their important appointment at the cemetery with Norma and Jean, which had been arranged by Blyth-based photo-journalist John Tuttiett.

Their mini bus became stuck in a massive traffic jam after members of a parachute display landed on nearby roads, causing deadlock.

Ever resourceful and determined not to miss their appointment, the cadets abandoned their bus and marched more than two miles in dress uniform in temperatures in excess of 26 degrees.

Sgt Robson’s grave had another north east visitor the following day as veteran Billy Ness, from Newcastle, who was also on the first raid, laid crosses at the graves of all his fallen fellow parachutists.

 

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