One of the last surviving D-Day veterans who transported 35 tonnes of dynamite to Omaha beach has died at the age of 98.
Edward Gaines, known as Eddie, died at his home in Poole, Dorset, on April 21, his family said.
In a tribute page set up to raise money for Blind Veterans UK, which supported Mr Gaines in his later life, his family said: “Eddie leaves behind four children and 16 grandchildren as well as a legacy of service to his family, his country and the veteran community.”
The obituary states that Mr Gaines was born in 1925 and left school at the age of 16 to take up an engineer’s apprenticeship, although a bomb blast destroyed the firm and he went on to join the Navy in 1943.
After initially training on motor gun boats at Portland, Mr Gaines transferred to become a petrol stoker on landing craft.
He and the other four crew of his landing barge vehicle set off from Poole on June 4 1944 in preparation for the Normandy landings and they transported 35 tonnes of TNT and a bulldozer to land at Omaha beach on D-Day.
They continued to work on Omaha beach, transporting ammunition, equipment and men, for several months and he served in Normandy until Christmas Eve 1944.
After leaving the Navy when the war ended, he worked in a mill in Battersea before helping his parents build their dream bungalow and then becoming self-employed as a bricklayer until his retirement at the age of 60.
Mr Gaines first received support from Blind Veterans UK in 2016 after losing his sight much later in life due to age-related macular degeneration.
He said about the charity: “I was over the moon that the man at the library gave me the card for Blind Veterans UK and told me to get in touch. I came away from my first visit to their Brighton centre a new man.
“They gave me a special reader that magnifies documents to a huge size. It allowed me to still look after my own correspondence. I also started learning how to use a tablet computer.”
His family said: “Eddie was so passionate about his support for Blind Veterans UK that he flew the charity’s flag outside his home for the last years of his life.”
The charity also arranged for Mr Gaines to be presented with the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion D’Honneur in recognition of his part in the liberation of France.
Mr Gaines’ son Martin said: “Dad was a hero for his country but he was so much more than that for us, his family.
“He had such a full life that we all reckon he crammed 200 years of living into his 98.
“So, on behalf of all the family, I can say that we will all miss him and remember him forever.”
Blind Veterans UK’s director of engagement, Jackie Harbor, said: “Eddie’s passion for everything he did was brilliant and infectious.
“That passion was definitely seen when he decided to give back to Blind Veterans UK as a thank you for the support we were proud to give him.
“He was the finest ambassador for us.”
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