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Brave Hemsby soldier survived to 85

PUBLISHED: 15:28 02 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:34 03 July 2010

Dominic Bareham

MOVING tributes have been paid to a war hero who survived being sprayed with bullets and losing part of his left arm during the battle to liberate France.

MOVING tributes have been paid to a war hero who survived being sprayed with bullets and losing part of his left arm during the battle to liberate France.

Paratrooper Donald Morrey, of Newport Road, Hemsby, fought on for 12 hours after being shot repeatedly in the chest by a German machine gun to help successfully liberate the Normandy town of Ranville.

The private, who served in 13 Battalion parachute regiment, was among only three paratroopers to survive out of the 21-strong party tasked with preparing the ground for the Allies D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

But despite suffering heavy blood loss through the bullet wounds to his chest and left hand, which caused gangrene to spread to his lower left arm forcing its amputation, he survived to the age of 85.

His son Brian paid tribute to the brave veteran who at the age of 16 lied about his age to join the North Staffordshire regiment, saying he was a year older.

He said: “He was very proud and stubborn. He liked being independent. He was the sort of person who would not ask for help until he realised he could not do it himself, then he would ask.”

Mr Morrey's daughter Elaine Shellard, added: “He was very outgoing. He used to stand at the bottom of the drive and watch the world go by. He was a proud serviceman and would always go out in his paratrooper tie and cap.”

Born in Stoke on Trent in 1923, Donald, who was one of 12 children, attended Moorland Road School in Stoke before going on to work briefly for one of the city's pottery companies and then joining the army.

He spent time in Ireland with the North Staffordshire regiment before becoming one of the first to join the newly-formed paratrooper battalion where he was given the nickname “Ginger” owing to his hair colour.

He left the army at the end of the war in May 1945, five months after marrying wife Irene.

The couple moved to Hemsby in 1963, living initially in Beach Road and then Newport Road.

They had two other children, Anne Kenny, and Carole Carter.

Brian added: “He typified the dedication shown by our war veterans and that is why it is so important we remember their sacrifices.”

A widower for eight years, Mr Morrey died on March 23 and funeral is due to be held today at Gorleston Crematorium.


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