Royal Marine and Churchill bodyguard was on duty to protect the PM at the Tehran Conference in Nov/Dec 1943.
By Kate Liptrot, [email protected]
THE YORK PRESS, 27 September 2012—A former bodyguard of Winston Churchill, who was known by thousands of York residents, has died.
Bill Day was head of distribution at Rowntree Mackintosh in York, having joined the company in 1947, before emigrating to join the firm’s management board in Australia following a distinguished military career.
As a Royal Marine, he accompanied the British Prime Minister to the historic Tehran Conference in November 1943.
Joseph Stalin, Franklin D Roosevelt and Churchill were there to debate opening a second front against Adolf Hitler, a decision that helped win the Second World war.
Mr Day was charged with the safekeeping of the Sword of Stalingrad, presented by Churchill to Stalin at the conference. Mr Day, who became Churchill’s bodyguard, died, aged 95, at his home in Victoria, Australia, leaving his wife Marie, and children Peter and Janet.
After joining the Marines in 1934, when the war started he was promoted from corporal to sergeant, and immediately volunteered for conflict, becoming part of the early Commandos. He received training in demolition, parachuting, glider insertion and silent killing.
He came to Churchill’s attention when he took part in the abortive Dieppe raid in 1942, which saw 60 per cent of the main force of Canadians either killed or captured.
Mr Day landed with 40 Royal Marine Commando, which neutralised a battery of big guns on high ground and successfully withdrew.
After working as a bodyguard on the 1943 conference when D-Day arrived Mr Day was a Company Sergeant Major and leading 30 Assault Unit Commando up Utah beach.
He later took part in a successful task to capture an experimental submarine, which used hydrogen propulsion technology, at the naval base in Kiel. The marine finished the war in Stettin, Poland, helping to liberate the Nazi concentration camp, Stalag XI B.
Mr Day, who lived in the Stockton Lane area of York, for many years was decorated with a Gallantry Medal, six campaign and long service medals, and was awarded the second highest possible British military honour – the Distinguished Service Medal, presented by King George VI.
John Richardson, a former Rowntree colleague and friend, said Mr Day did not often talk about his military experiences, and many people did not know about all his medals.
“He was a brilliant guy, good to work for, very regimental but honest and hard working. He was very well known. There were 11,000 employees at Rowntree in York in the 1970s.
“With him being in distribution everyone knew Bill Day.”
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