THE family of a Malvern war hero has paid tribute to a “remarkable man”

George James, who was 96, died last weekend, and his family has shared his incredible wartime story.

George was one of the last surviving veterans of the Normandy Landings, fighting on Gold Beach aged just 19.

Following this, he was then part of the defence against the German counter-attack around Falaise, helping with the breakout there.

He then went on to fight across Europe, eventually being wounded in the Netherlands near the German Border.

Having recovered from his injuries, he was then sent to Palestine, where he was part of the peacekeeping force when the famous explosion occurred in the Star of David Hotel.

George’s son Paul helped his father put together his memoirs between 2017 and 2020 to help tell his story.

Born in December 1924 in the Cambridgeshire town of March, George James was one of four, with a brother and two sisters.

His father, also called George, was in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War and was known in the area for his craftsmanship as a wheelwright and carpenter.

When George Jr was just under two years old, he stopped breathing and the family thought he had died. He finally gave a gasp and started breathing again, making a full recovery.

When the war broke out in September 1939, George became a messenger boy at the Civil Defence HQ for the town of March.

His father was already an Air Raid Warden, although he was involved in a reserved occupation as a wheelwright. George’s older brother Tom, aged 20, was already called up immediately into the Royal Artillery.

Meanwhile, sisters Frances and Lily were telephone operators at the Civil defence HQ every Saturday night, until Frances (who was married) moved to work for the Ministry of Agriculture and Lily took up nursing in a Military Hospital in Newmarket.

George had originally wanted to join the Royal Air Force as a bomber navigator, but was turned down on the basis of being long-sighted.

Because of this, he passed over to the Army, being recommended for either the artillery or armoured. For some reason though, he ended up in the infantry.

One unforgettable memory of that period between July and August 1944 was an attack on a Unit of the Hitler Youth in the Caen area.

A teenage German soldier who had used up all his ammunition, sat glumly in his slit trench muttering “Shoot me, Shoot me!”

According to George’s memoirs: “One of our Sergeants jumped into the trench, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and threw him out of the trench with a flurry of appropriate language; something along the lines of “Don’t be a bloody fool, we don’t kill children!”

Eventually, he was wounded near the German border with the Netherlands. His memoirs continue: “At about 09.00hrs we spotted another Tiger tank, dug into a ditch.

“Just before the German tank commander spotted us, we dived onto a small hillock peppered with thin trees, which was of course a mistake as it provided a perfect target for the tank commander to line up on.

“L/Cpl Bill Edney from Birmingham was killed outright by the shelling and I and several others including Freddie Bridges were wounded.

“The tank’s first salvo had triggered an artillery bombardment from both lines, so we were pinned down for several hours. I had been wounded in the arm and leg.

“Drifting in and out of consciousness due to loss of blood, I tried to help others more seriously wounded, including Freddie who had severe abdominal wounds, so for several hours he and I held his innards together.”

After the war, George went on to work in civil engineering, working in Cambridgeshire and Dover, where he met his first wife Evelyn, marrying in 1952.

The family then moved to Worcester in the late 1950s before Evelyn’s death in 1986.

Shortly after, in 1989, George remarried, this time to Doris, moving to Malvern to be with her.

George is survived by Doris as well as his son Paul. He also had a daughter, Denise, who died in 2005.

He also had three stepchildren through his marriage to Doris: Ann, John and Keith.