Clan Hay Member Returns to Normandy for D Day Commemoration

Vera Hay, back in Normandy 70 years on

Vera Hay, back in Normandy 70 years on

Among those taking part in today's 70th anniversary commemoration of the D Day landings will be 92 year old Vera Hay from Cumbria.

Vera began training as a nurse shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War at London's Hammersmith Hospital.  She gained valuable experience treating casualties during the blitz, but she was committed to working with fighting troops and when her four year contract with Hammersmith expired in 1943, she joined Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service.

She landed on Gold Beach in Normandy a week after D Day.  It took her a full 24 hours to travel the 10 miles to Chateau de Beaussy field hospital where she was to be stationed, avoiding contact with under cover German military en route.

There, she worked as a ward sister treating around 200 casualties per day.  There was no rota for the nurses; they all worked round the clock, snatching sleep whenever they could, often for only an hour or two at a time.  Initially they had to sleep in a ditch until tents were eventually provided.

Vera is pictured here outside Chateau de Beaussy where she worked.  Among her medals, she is wearing France's highest honour, the Legion d'Honneur.