The heartbreaking story of one-eyed hero who died completely alone
Written by The Newsroom on May 30, 2019
Efforts are being made to trace family members of a D-Day hero who was left with one eye after fighting in the war.
George William Ambrose Mills passed away at Lyndon Hall Care Home in West Bromwich , with no known family surviving him and his ashes have remained unclaimed since his death in 2011.
Now, eight years on, Sandwell Council and the Royal British Legion have joined forces to appeal for relatives to come forward so a ceremony can be organised to honour the war veteran and finally scatter his ashes.
George was born in Bridgend in 1923 and volunteered during the early years of the Second World War.
In 1943, he transferred to the 79th Armoured Division Royal Engineers who were part of the first wave of D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
The combat driver was one of the first men ashore on Sword Beach on D-Day in August 1944 and lost an eye when he was wounded in action while supporting Canadian troops during Operation Totalize in Normandy – resulting in him being evacuated to England.
(Image: Sandwell Council)
It is believed George was sent to a hospital in the Black Country to recuperate and he chose to settle in the Tipton area after marrying Gladys Mary Wood in 1945.
George, who worked as a postman, remained in Tipton following his wife’s death in 1982, only moving out of the area in his later years, when he went to live at Lyndon Hall.
Records show George had no siblings but his wife Gladys had a brother named George Thomas Wood, who was born on February 22, 1910.
She also had two sisters – Norah Wood, born April 26, 1915 (married name Peacock) and Edith M Wood (married name Palmer), who was born on March 11, 1918. Both women are believed to have lived in Tipton, with the latter later moving to Cannock.
Terri Brindley, manager at Lyndon Hall Care Home, said: “One of our staff members remembers George talking about his medals from the Second World War and she even took George to an Armistice Day parade in Birmingham in her own time.
“It’s been a long time since George died so we contacted the council and The Royal British Legion to see if they could help to honour George and identify an appropriate place to scatter his ashes.”
Frank Caldwell, Sandwell Council’s museums service manager, added: “George’s unit was responsible for clearing mines obstacles and enemy troops from the Normandy beach and he would have been one of the first British troops to get ashore.
“His unit suffered heavy losses in the first few minutes after landing. I don’t think we can begin to imagine what it was like to be at the spearhead of the invasion.
“Researching George’s history has been a bit of a challenge and there are plenty of questions we still are not able to answer.
“It may be that family members can answer some of them, but even if they can’t we’d hope some relatives might be able to attend a ceremony where we finally lay George to rest with the honour and respect that this old soldier deserves”.
Anyone who thinks they may be related to George, or his wife Gladys, should email email@example.com or call 0121 569 8342.
Updates from the Cannock Chase Radio News Desk via Birmingham Mail - Cannock News