William Cooke - World War 2 D-Day Veteran at NIWM in Belfast
Ian Wilson, Chairman of the Northern Ireland War Memorial (NIWM) in Belfast is pictured chatting about his new book to D-Day veteran William Cooke from Belfast.
The timely publication of 'SO VAST AN ARMADA From Belfast Lough to D-Day' by Ian Wilson, relates to the significant commemorations regarding the 70th Anniversary of D-Day.
The invasion of Normandy, 6 June 1944, was the most momentous military operation in history.
Not only was Northern Ireland a major training ground for US troops, Belfast Lough was also the assembly point for half of the Allied bombardment fleet.
Three huge US battleships, ‘Texas’, ‘Nevada’ and ‘Arkansas’ spent a month preparing at anchor off Bangor. British, Free French and a Dutch warship also gathered, until there were 30,000 crew out in the Lough.
William Cooke served from July 1943 as a telegraphist. He attended a signal school in Devonport. In March 1944 he joined as a telegraphist for the tank landing craft at Portland Harbour. On 26 April he sailed to Southampton, it was here that he saw Churchill coming of a landing. He later joined a repair ship and was sent to Colombo, from Colombo he went on to Hong Kong and assisted there in setting up a dockyard.
William still has his actual diary from 1944.
He also said he was recently asked by a schoolboy, as a veteran of D-Day what kind of gun he used. He recollected that he picked up the child’s pencil and said this was my gun....as they say the pen is mightier than the sword…
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