ON D-Day, 17-year-old Bill Edwardes landed in Normandy as a stretcher bearer – braving bombs and bullets as he attended casualties.

As men died around him, his life expectancy could have been measured in minutes.

But, Bill lived nearly another 75 years, passing away just a few weeks before he had hoped to go to Normandy to mark the last major gathering of veterans.

The 43rd Wessex Regiment played a huge part in the rest of Bill’s life, and in 1994, he helped to form the 43rd Wessex Association, made a number of visits to Normandy with them, and ended up as chairman of the organisation.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Bill died on May 6. More than 100 people were expected at his funeral yesterday at St Martin in the Wood Church, Chandler’s Ford.

One of Bill’s friends, retired Lieutenant Colonel Ian Holmes, has been organising the ceremony.

He said: “Bill was a great guy. He had a fantastic sense of humour and poured his heart and soul into everything to do with the 43rd.

“He was a regular contact of mine. I first met him back in 2002 when working at the headquarters of the 43rd and we got to see a lot of each other. I always enjoyed his company and he was a really positive figure to be around. Many people were lucky enough to know and love Bill – he was just that kind of person.”