KIDDERMINSTER man John Edward Hayden lost his life delivering vital supplies of petrol and diesel to the 27th Armoured Brigade after the D-Day landings - under constant threat from German snipers.

A driver for the 90th Mechanised Transport Company, Royal Army Service Corps, Hayden's 'B' platoon arrived in France on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, and successfully delivered nine vehicles of petrol and diesel to the 27th Armoured in the days following, before one of the store dumps was bombed, killing 11 men and injuring two others.

Hayden was aged just 23 when he was killed in action, leaving wife Winifred, of Kidderminster, a widow.

Born in 1920 to parents William Alfred Hayden and Rose While, John lived with his family in Stretton Road, Kidderminster, before marrying in 1940.

Hayden and the rest of the 90th Mechanised Transport Company RASC had a vital task on D-Day.

As well as supplying fuel and ammunition to the 27th Armoured of their own division, they were responsible for resupplying the 6th Airborne units that had seized the vital bridges over the River Orne at Benouville.

Lt Colonel Cuthbertson, in command of the 90th, went ashore from LCT 298 at 9.25am but did not find any party from the 6th Airborne at the rendezvous.

The 11 vehicles of 'C' platoon, laden with pre-prepared ammunition and commanded by Captain Foreman, landed from LST 382 at 2.30pm and made their way to the company harbour area, south-east of Colville-sur-Orne.

Contact was made with the Airborne HQ at Ranville and the ammunition was delivered to the paratroopers by 11.30pm.

The war diary indicates that Hayden's platoon, commanded by Lt GR Glenny, was under constant threat from German snipers as it delivered petrol and diesel to the 27th Armoured Brigade for much of the day on June 6, often under the escort of armoured vehicles.

Gradually, the RASC began to move the store dumps on the invasion beaches to 'A' Echelon HQ at Hermanville.

German bombing caused wounds to a few soldiers, but damaged LST 385 and caused it to be unloaded at sea. It was still stocked with loaded vehicles due to hold-ups on the beaches.

The Company War Diary states that 'C' platoon were "continuously engaged in transporting ammunition fuel and supplies to 6th Airborne Division maintenance area from beach sector store dumps while 12x3 tonners were drawing ammunition and supplied from No. 3 Dump.

"The dump was bombed and caught fire. Two ORs were wounded and were evacuated. 11 ORs were missing and are believed to have been killed in the explosion and fire.

"9x3 tonne vehicles... were destroyed in the explosion and fire."

Lt Col Cuthbertson recorded, in a letter to the wife of one of Hayden's comrade, his own description of the events of June 8.

It read: "I have the very sad duty of writing to tell you of the death in action of your husband on the June 9.

"Owing to circumstances out here, this is the first opportunity I have had of writing to you and I am afraid you will already have had the terrible shock of receiving an official notification from the War Office.

"All I can attempt to do is to tell you a little more of the circumstances as far as I can.

"He landed with the first section of our company on the morning of D-Day and for two days with the other lads, he worked night and day and did a simply magnificent job of work.

"These were the critical days and he played his part nobly in making it a success.

"On the night of the June 7/8, there was a German air raid over the location and a bomb fell amongst where the men were - your husband was killed outright.

"The burial took place the following morning, June 8, in the military cemetery."

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.