ONE of the last survivors of the Normandy Veterans living in Trowbridge has died peacefully on Wednesday, July 15 at the Bloomfield care centre in Paulton near Bath.

Walter George Conway, 94, who was known as ‘Bob’, had been living there since April 6 after leaving Salisbury District Hospital.

He was well-known in the town where he was chairman of the Normandy Veterans Association in Wiltshire and a member of the Trowbridge Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Mr Conway, of Boundary Walk, was a regular attendee at the annual Remembrance Day parades and services at the Trowbridge War Memorial in the Town Park.

Mr Conway is survived by his wife Gwen and his extended family, which includes five children, 12 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

People in Trowbridge were saddened to learn of the death of the D-Day veteran, who could always be seen at the annual Wiltshire Armed Forces and Veterans Celebrations in the Town Park.

Mr Conway served with the Royal Army Service Corps in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany during the Second World War.

He was also a dispatch rider and was awarded several campaign medals for his service, including The 1939-45 Star for France and Germany and The Defence Medal.

During Operation Overlord he drove American Mack trucks and Studebakers.

Interviewed for the Wiltshire Times in 2014 for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, Mr Conway said: “I was 17 when I joined the army in 1943. I did my basic training and then got posted to the Royal Army Service Corps shortly after my 18th birthday. It wasn’t long before we set off from Dover to the coast of Normandy.

“We were on the landing craft over to Normandy for three to four days and the Germans were dropping depth charges all over the place. When we got there we went along a small side road around Arromanches.

“We were picking up ammunition and taking it to the soldiers for the cannons and heavy guns, as well as taking up food if they needed it.”

But, because of the Allies’ need for secrecy, it was never easy.“There were no maps, nothing to tell you where to go,” said Mr Conway.

“You never really knew from one day to the next what was going to happen. You were on your own most of the time and when you are 18 it was quite hard being on your own the whole time. I often wonder how we did it.”

Mr Conway, whose father Walter served with the Royal Irish Rifles in the Great War, faced several hazards during his ammunition drops and said one of the most dangerous parts of his role was driving into fields to check whether there were any mines lying in wait.

“When we got to a field they sent one vehicle around it first to make sure there were no mines,” he said.

“I had to do it several times. That was incredibly scary as you never knew whether you were going to get out of it alive.

“We were working 24 hours a day, so it was incredibly tiring and we never knew what a bed was. We slept in our vehicles and did pretty much everything in them. I don’t know how we did it really.

“We were supplying the troops all the way throughout Normandy and there was another occasion when I was shot at while driving and the bullet went through the windscreen and out the back windscreen.”

Mr Conway was in Germany when the war ended and did not return home for another two years, instead assisting with transferring people from prisoner of war camps.

He said: “We were on an autobahn when we heard the war was over.

“Someone managed to get a radio somehow and it was announced that the war was over and we all started dancing.”

Captain (Retd.) Roy Zaman MBE, chairman of The Royal British Legion in Trowbridge said: “Everyone at The Royal British Legion Trowbridge is incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Mr Bob Conway (Légion d’Honneur).

“Bob holds a special place in the hearts of all of us here at the Trowbridge Legion. It was a privilege to have known him; he was a character with a true sense of duty and lent his support to the Legion on many occasions and regularly attended the Remembrance Sunday Service at St James’ Church and the town War Memorial.

“He was also well-known and admired by all across Trowbridge’s veteran communities and will be sadly missed.”

Squadron Leader Philip Lobb MBE RAF VR(T) (Retd) also paid tribute to Mr Conway: “Bob became involved with the 2196 (Trowbridge) Air Training Corps Squadron at Frome Road in 1980 when his son Robert joined the unit as a cadet.

“At that time I was commanding the squadron and Bob poked his head around the door one evening and asked if there was anything that he could do to help out on the squadron.

“I advised him that the Civilian Committee was in need of members and that the chairman had recently resigned. His response was “no problem”.

“He took on the mantle and very successfully raised much-needed funds and supported myself and my successor Flight Lieutenant John Funnell for many years.

“Robert had left the unit to join the Royal Marines and I recall that we had an excellent day at Lympstone for his passing out parade. As we walked down through the camp to the parade ground Bob noticed some workmen laying turf and as we went by I remember him saying to them, “green side up lads”.

“Both Gwen and Bob have remained our friends to this day. I very much valued his help and support on the unit and his contribution led to 2196 Squadron being one of the top units in Dorset & Wilts Wing for many years often being nominated for the Lee’s Trophy competition.

"Our community has lost a wonderful man who would never shy away from a job that needed doing.”

Mr Conway was born in London within the sound of the Bow bells, making him a true Cockney. His wife, Gwen, comes from Essex. The couple married 45 years ago.

Mrs Conway said: “We both had children before we met. Bob was a people person. He loved people and he loved the ladies too. He was a terrible flirt, but he was my flirt.”

After leaving the army, Mr Conway worked as a drayman for the Ushers brewery in Trowbridge. He always wore a tie and would never go out without his tie on.

Mr Conway’s funeral is scheduled to be held at 12.15pm on Thursday, August 13 at the West Wiltshire Crematorium at Semington.

To commemorate his wartime role as a dispatch rider, Richard Palusinski, who will be taking the funeral service, is trying to arrange for motorcycle outriders to escort the cortege through Trowbridge to the crematorium.