On 2 December, veterans, cabbies and volunteers from the Taxi Charity joined family and friends for the cremation of WWII veteran, Fred Glover, 94, at Downs Crematorium in Brighton.
During WWII, Fred was in the 9th Battalion, The Parachute Regiment. On D-Day, his battalion was charged to assault and silence the guns of the Merville Battery which could have fired on the troops landing on the beaches and the ships in the Channel.
Brian Heffernan, London cabbie and Taxi Charity volunteer, said: "Today it was my honour to pick up veterans Tom Schaffer and John Pinkerton in Brentwood to take them to say their final farewells to Fred Glover in Brighton. Fred was a legend, and it is not often that you can say you knew a real hero. We shouldn’t forget what these guys did for us all those years ago and I’d like to think that they made the world a better place."
Dave Hemstead, a fellow London cabbie and Taxi Charity volunteer, said: "It was an honour to have known Fred. I always loved to see that on Taxi Charity trips to the Netherlands, he was always surrounded by Dutch school children who loved to spend time with him. Everyone involved with the charity will miss him greatly."
Patrick Granger, Ex Para, London cabbie and Taxi Charity volunteer, said: "I have been volunteering for the charity ever since I did The Knowledge, 18 years ago. On days like today it is so important to join the other Paras who have gathered here, from all over the country, to pay their respects to this hero.
Over the years, Fred was involved with many of our trips and outings, and was mentioned frequently in our news posts. You can read all our posts about Fred by clicking here.
About Fred Glover
Fred Glover joined the Army at 16 (having lied about his age) and after his training, volunteered for the Parachute Regiment and was posted to 9 Battalion.
On D-Day, 9 Battalion was charged to assault and silence the guns of a battery sited near the village of Merville, situated to the east of the beaches.
When interviewed some years ago, Fred said: "We are informed that the guns must be silenced by H Hour minus 30 minutes; that is to say 30 minutes before the first of the sea borne troops hit Sword Beach. The briefing closed with the statement that failure is not an option and with these words imprinted in our minds, we waited for the command to go."
Armed with automatic weapons, grenades and the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife, Fred flew from RAF Brize Norton into Normandy in Horsa glider number 27, one of the 150 men who formed A Company.
Once across the Channel ack ack fire from the German 20mm gun hit the gliders fuselage and several men were hit. Fred received wounds to both legs.
Once on the ground the men were immediately engaged in a fire fight with enemy troops moving from the village of Gonneville to reinforce the defenders of the battery.
“With the withdrawal of these German troops we are able to make our way the short distance to the battery; I needed assistance as I felt blood inside my boots and the pain is beginning to bother me. My wounds were dressed, and I attempted to follow my comrades but after a short distance I can go no further."
His fellow men left Fred with two German prisoners. One of the prisoners, a German officer was in acute pain and Fred, in an act that would ultimately save his life later, gave him his morphine.
When German reinforcements arrived, Fred was captured and was destined to be shot until the German officer that Fred had helped with morphine asked for clemency and instead Fred was taken as a prisoner of war to Hopital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris.
The hospital treated Fred’s open wounds and he began working with the French Resistance who were operating out of the hospital.
When news reached them that the allies were near, Fred’s escape was planned. On the day of his escape, Fred worked as an orderly. The Resistance staged an incident outside the main gate and Fred made his escape carrying a full bed pan past the guards.
When the Americans arrived, Fred was flown back to the UK and after making a full recovery, re-joined his Battalion and fought in the Ardennes in December 1944.