Armed with automatic weapons, grenades and a fighting knife strapped to his leg as he flew low over the beaches of Normandy, paratrooper Frederick Glover wondered if it would come to hand to hand combat.
His question was soon answered when he heard the ‘ack, ack, ack’ of gunfire as he leapt from the plane on D-Day.
Frederick – known as Fred – was shot through the leg and was captured as a German prisoner of war, but escaped and became the only British infantryman known to have fought with the French Resistance.
But after surviving the Second World War, Fred’s life was claimed by Covid after the 94-year-old contracted the virus while in hospital following a fall.
Tributes have poured in for the veteran, who was due to be honoured by the French next year with a street in Merville-Franceville-Plage, Normandy, named after him.
Fred, who was from Brighton, died on October 31 after he was taken to hospital following a fall at home.
Frederick Glover, from Brighton, died on October 31 after contracting Covid-19 in hospital following a fall at home
While at the hospital, Fred caught a chest infection, which was later diagnosed as Covid-19.
The D-Day hero passed away a few days before November’s national remembrance events.
Officials from France and the UK have paid tribute to to the ‘valiant’ Second World War veteran.
His son Richard said: ‘As a family, not only were we proud of his service to his country, but we were also proud to have him as a dad, grandad and great grandad.
‘He made such an impact on all our lives. We will miss you so much.’
The British Ambassador to France also said he was ‘very sad’ to hear of Fred’s passing, while the head of a veterans charity also said Fred would be ‘sorely missed’.
Tributes have poured in for the D-Day hero, who passed away a few days before November’s national remembrance events
Ambassador Ed Llewellyn said: ‘I was very sad to hear of the death of Fred Glover.
‘I well remember meeting Fred at the international ceremony at Merville Battery on 6 June 2018 and chatting to him there.
‘It was such an honour to be standing at that site alongside Fred and his other comrades from 9 Para who had been there on D-Day and taken part in the assault.
‘And to witness their determination to make sure their mates who did not survive were not forgotten.’
The head of a veterans charity said Fred (pictured) would be ‘sorely missed’ as officials from France and the UK have paid tribute to to the ‘valiant’ Second World War veteran
Dick Goodwin, vice president of The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, added: ‘He was a real character who always filled the room with warmth and laughter and he will be sorely missed.’
Fred enlisted into the Royal East Kent Regiment 70th Battalion when the Second World War hit, and later volunteered for airborne forces while serving as a Lance Corporal.
He qualified as a military parachutist at RAF Ringway in August 1943.
The course instructor noted on his records that a young Fred: ‘Finished in good style.’
He was posted to A Company 9th Parachute Battalion, and he fought with then in the Normany Campaign.
On D-Day, Fred and rest of 9 Battalion were charged to assault and silence the guns of a battery near the village of Merville, situated to the east of the beaches.
Fred and his fellow soldiers flew from RAF Brize Norton into Normandy armed with automatic weapons, grenades and knives.
Recalling his preparations for the attack he later said: ‘As our encounter with the enemy is expected to be at close quarters, we are armed with automatic weapons, grenades and the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife which is secured in the approved manner at arm’s length on the trouser; will it really come to that?’
His departure was postponed by 24 hours due to bad weather.
‘These hours seem like a lifetime; we check and re-check weapons, play cards using the French liberation currency issued to us and consume endless mugs of tea,’ he said.
Once across the Channel, they were hit by fire from a German 20mm gun and several men were injured including Fred who received wounds to both legs.
In his previous retelling of the events of D-Day, published on Paradata, he said: ‘At that moment ack ack fire from the 20mm gun hits the fuselage and several of us are hit. I receive wounds to both legs but as yet I feel no pain.
‘We crash down on the edge of a small orchard and beside a track that leads up to the battery.’
On the ground, the men were immediately engaged in a firefight with enemy troops moving from the village of Gonneville to reinforce the defenders of the battery.
The former paratrooper previously completed a charity sky dive at Old Sarum Airfield near Salisbury in 2016
Fred said: ‘With the withdrawal of these German troops we are able to make our way the short distance to the battery.
‘I needed assistance as I felt blood inside my boots and the pain is beginning to bother me.
‘My wounds were dressed, and I attempted to follow my comrades but after a short distance I can go no further.’
He was later captured and taken to as a prisoner of war to Hopital de la Pitié-Salpêtrière in Paris.
However, he would escape the hospital after news reached them that the allies were near, using the excuse of taking his bedpan to the incinerator to evade suspicion.
When the Americans arrived, Fred was flown back to the UK and after making a full recovery at a military hospital in Shaftsbury went on to fight in the Ardenne.
He saw action in the Battle of the Bulge and also the Rhine crossing.
Pierre-Andre Durand, prefet of the region of Normandy, called the veteran (pictured left after a charity skydive) a ‘valient paratrooper’
The former paratrooper never gave up his sense of adventure and previously completed a charity sky dive at Old Sarum Airfield near Salisbury in 2016.
It came after a poignant image of Fred was pictured on newspapers across the UK on the 2014 anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The photograph showing him watching a mass parachute drop near Ranville from a field of crops.
Pierre-Andre Durand, prefet of the region of Normandy, called Fred an ‘unsung hero’.
He said: ‘This valiant paratrooper is one of those unsung heroes of the D-Day landings in Normandy.
‘He was dedicated to the memory of his brothers in arms and always grateful for the help the French resistance had provided him and would endlessly share with the young his commitment towards freedom.
‘In the name of the French-British friendship and with gratitude for the services rendered by Frederick Glover, I extend my deepest sympathy to his family and all his loved ones.’