By Douglas Whitbread

A D-Day hero who found out the Second World War in Europe was going to end 48 hours before the rest of the world has vowed to keep the historic letter in his family.

 

Bernard Morgan was working as an RAF codebreaker in 1945 when he deciphered a secret telex that read: “The German war is now over… The surrender is effective some time tomorrow”.

And the ex-serviceman, who celebrates his 100th birthday tomorrow (Wednesday), has vowed that the important telex will pass to his family when he dies.

Ahead of his birthday, the great-grandad read out the note – dressed in the uniform he wore on D-day – to remind others of the liberties they had won in the victory.

But the Royal British Legion Ambassador (RBL) refuses to give museums the original, instead insisting it will stay in his family when he dies.

Bernard, who was the youngest RAF sergeant to land in Normandy in June 1944, said: “I am always keen for the younger generation to know exactly what went on during the War and to appreciate the sacrifice that our lads made so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.

“The Imperial War Museum in London and in Manchester both wanted the original copy – they weren’t interested in a photocopy – but I’m keeping it for my family.”

Bernard, of Crewe, Cheshire, landed on Gold Beach at 6.30 pm on D-Day, 6 June 1944, aged 20, after he had joined the RAF on his birthday two years earlier.

(Lee McLean via SWNS)

He was stationed in Schneverdingen, Germany, when he got the message on around May 6, 1945, declaring that the war in Europe was ending via his Typex machine.

The note stated: “The German War is now over. At Rheims last night the instrument of surrender was signed which in effect is a surrender of all personnel of the German forces – all equipment and shipping and all machinery in Germany.

“Nothing will be destroyed anywhere. The surrender is effective some time tomorrow. This news will not be communicated to anyone outside the service nor to members of the press.”

Following the news, Bernard had a big party with his close comrades – lighting a huge bonfire and celebrating into the night while being careful not to give the game away.

He kept both the note and his role in the war hidden for 50 years due to secrecy documents he had signed, which finally elapsed in 1994.

(Lee McLean via SWNS)

He said of receiving the note: “It was a surprise. We couldn’t tell anybody until we got the final message to say the war in Germany was now over.

“We had to decode it – it was in code. It was great when we got that. I was in a little place called Schneverdingen, Germany, near Hamburg.

“It was nice to see that no more soldiers, sailors or airmen were giving their lives… and also to thank the civilians who gave their lives for the same reason.

“My parents thought the war was like the First World War, ankle-deep in mud, and they never asked what I did in the Air Force.

“Being their only child, they were so glad to see me come home.”

Bernard said despite his glee at the end of the conflict, sharing the note with others also made him reflect on those who had died during the fighting.

He added: “On occasions like this, I always think about the three wireless operators that I lost in Normandy. They were the lads bringing me the messages.

“One of them was 19 and two of them were 20, and whenever I go to Normandy, I always go to their graves.”

(Lee McLean via SWNS)

After the War, Bernard worked on the railways and at Crewe Alexandra where he was a turnstile operator for 57 years.

The widower, who was married for 51 years before his wife’s death, is planning to return to Normandy with the RBL to mark the 80th anniversary of D-day in June.

His daughter Sheila said: “We are incredibly proud of Dad, and it is wonderful that so many people want to share his special day.

“He will always be a war hero but he is a brilliant dad, grandad and great-grandad, too.”

Nancy Kay, Branch Chair for the RBL in Crewe, added: “Our D-Day veterans are a dwindling band of brothers, so it is incredibly important that we take every opportunity we can to celebrate the achievements and the bravery of those people who helped to liberate Europe 80 years ago.”


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