Hero who led D-Day landing craft dies aged 95.

Edmund Purser was praised after sailing his landing craft to safety after it took a direct hit during the assault on Sword beach.


Mr Purser, who was 95 when he died, defined his life by his time in the Royal Navy.

A British war hero who led the first landing craft ashore at Sword Beach on D-Day in 1944 has died.

Edmund "Tommy" Purser was "mentioned in dispatches" after managing to get his boat back home despite suffering a direct hit during the assault on the beaches in Normandy.

Some of his crew were killed as they approached the beach on June 6 1944 as the lead landing craft (LCA) carrying soldiers from the Assault Group to land on the beach.

Despite bad weather and an incoming tide, the first wave of LCA's managed to land at 7.25am.

Although the vessel was deemed as almost unseaworthy, he still managed to get it back to safety.

After repairs were carried out he continued to carry troops to Normandy during the early days of the invasion.

Mr Purser, who was 95 when he died, defined his life by his time in the Royal Navy, according to his family.

He joined HMS Raleigh in late 1940 for training and later HMS Vanquisher, a 1918 Destroyer, for convoy duty in the North Atlantic from Iceland to the Azores.

He was then commissioned in May 1942 and undertook training to sail landing craft capable of taking infantry ashore vessels that would play a crucial part in the D-Day landings.

Mr Purser trained by sailing from Scotland for beaching exercises on the mud in Chichester Creeks.

Before the D-Day landings, Mr Purser also took command of Landing Craft that were used in the Sicily landings and also helped to relieve the Channel islands.

He later married Pam, who was a wren in the Royal Navy, but was only allowed to be away from his ship for half an hour.

Following the war, Mr Purser, who became an accountant, continued sailing as part of a club in Topsham, Exeter, where he lived with his family.

The couple had two children, Simon and Stephen. One of their grandsons, Mark, has also seen active duty with the army in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.


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