D-Day veteran, 90, beats Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber to No. 1 with haunting ballad

30 May 2019, 18:56 | Updated: 31 May 2019, 09:13

D-Day veteran beats Ed Sheeran to No. 1
D-Day veteran beats Ed Sheeran to No. 1. Picture: Normandy Memorial Trust/Jamie Wiseman for the Daily Mail

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

For the 75th anniversary of D-Day, this 90-year-old Normandy veteran released a beautiful folk song – and now, he’s made it to No. 1 in Amazon’s music chart.

Jim Radford, the youngest known D-Day veteran, has released a powerful ballad ‘The Shores of Normandy’ for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Jim’s newly recorded version of the song, released only a week ago, has edged ahead of Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber’s hit song ‘I Don’t Care’ in the Amazon music chart.

The ballad is inspired by his experience of working on a ship on 6 June 1944, with lyrics about men who ‘stormed the gates of hell’ and ‘died upon that blood-soaked sand’.

Profits from the song will go towards the construction of the British Normandy Memorial, which will record the names of the 22,442 men and women serving under British command who died in the Battle of Normandy.

The monument will be inaugurated on 6 June by Prime Minister Theresa May and French President, Emmanuel Macron.

On his chart success, Jim said: “I’m delighted. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be No. 1 in any list. The more copies we sell, the more money we raise to build this memorial.

“We want people to remember all those good men. They deserve to be honoured and remembered. The thing that I remember most is seeing [the bodies of] those lads floating in the water – the ones who had to run up the beaches into the machine gun fire and never made it. I can still see their faces now.”

The D-Day hero, who was born in Hull and now lives in Lewisham, served as a galley boy with the Merchant Navy on the Empire Larch, aged just 15.

Speaking on board HMS Belfast on the River Thames to launch the D-Day 75 single, Jim described his role on D-Day as the ‘most dangerous job’, saying the scene at Gold Beach was ‘a terrible sight’.

“I didn’t go back to Allamanches until about 1960, and I didn’t expect to be moved,” he told the BBC on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

“But when I did go back and stood on the beach that I’d last seen covered in bodies, and saw children building sandcastles, I wept. And that’s when I decided to write the song.”

A campaign has now been launched to get the D-Day single to No. 1 in the UK singles chart, with backing from Nationwide Bank, the BBC and The Normandy Memorial Trust.

Listen to ‘The Shores of Normandy’ on Spotify here.