Hartlepool soldier’s D-Day bravery saw him awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal

A Hartlepool man’s bravery on D-Day has been unearthed in Mail archives.

By Chris Cordner
Thursday, 06 June, 2019, 06:00
Canadian soldiers land on Courseulles beach in Normandy, 06 June 1944 as Allied forces storm the Normandy beaches on D-Day. D-Day, 06 June 1944 is still one of the world's most gut-wrenching and consequential battles, as the Allied landing in Normandy led to the liberation of France which marked the turning point in the Western theater of World War II. Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images.

Sgt Cecil John Hunter, 38, was in charge of a landing craft which was ferrying troops to the Normandy shores.

He successfully got past three rows of German defences and dropped his first batch of troops off.

But as the boat swung round, it detonated a mine which blew the bottom out of the boat. Undeterred, the Royal Marine from Seaton Carew, still swung into action.

He ordered his crew to leave the boat and at first, he took shelter behind a Sherman tank on the beaches.

But then, he realised a Canadian Sgt Major was signalling to him, so Sgt Hunter braved 30 yards of open beach to get to him. The Hartlepool man had to crawl all the way with a hail of German gunfire coming at him.

When he got to the Canadians, they told him that the Sherman tank had been unknowingly directing its fire in their direction.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

So Sgt Hunter had to crawl the 30 yards back to the tank and pass the message on.

In a series of further messages, he had to cross the open shoreline - under German gunfire all the way - twice more.

His actions led to him being awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for outstanding courage and undaunted devotion to duty during the landings.

In peacetime, Sgt Hunter was a manager of Taylor’s Chemists - at first in High Row Darlington before transferring to Lynn Street in Hartlepool.

* Are you related to Sgt Hungter, if so contact the mail on 0191 5017471 or email: mail.news@northeast-press.co.uk