Cotman House Celebrates Their Own D-Day Veteran

7th June 2024

Cotman House resident Lawrence Peachey marked the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a visit to Felixstowe Museum and recalled the part he played on 6th June 1944 as a young lad in the navy.

A 17-Year Old Volunteer Trained for War

Born in Thurston, a village in Suffolk, Lawrence was conscripted into the navy and was happy to join to play his part in the war effort. He underwent training on the HMS Ganges, a former naval training school based in Shotley, Suffolk, which had been designated ‘Hostilities Only New Entry Training’.

Lawrence was sent to commence his duties as a gunner on HMS Kelvin, a destroyer which escorted convoys in the English Channel and the Mediterranean Sea and participated in numerous wartime engagements. As part of D-Day preparations, HMS Kelvin was assigned to Task Force D, and was instructed to bombard the German positions in the area of Sword Beach on 6 June 1944. Lawrence was just 18 years old.

D-Day Itself – and a Ride for Winston Churchill

As HMS Kelvin left port on that auspicious day, Lawrence vividly remembers the captain’s words, “This is the big one, no turning back”. The ship was one of the first to arrive at Sword Beach and Lawrence said, “Our first orders were to blow up the mines on the beach to enable the troops to land safely. BOOM! I’ve never heard a bang like it -there are no words to describe it, it was horrendous”.

Once their part in the operation was complete, HMS Kelvin returned to England, with the honour of collecting Prime Minister Winston Churchill and on June 12th, taking him back to Normandy to participate in meetings of the Chiefs of Staff.

Lawrence recalled that voyage, "Churchill did most of the talking. One of the guys finished off one of his cigar ends! He’d probably had one or two – he liked his booze! He was nothing out of the ordinary, seemed like a nice guy.”

After the war, Lawrence worked in a paint factory in Stowmarket for most of his life. Before moving into Cotman House, Lawrence was living in Thurston – his birthplace – so he’s a proper local resident. Lawrence loves to watch sport and is a huge supporter of Ipswich Town, delighted that they will be playing in the Premier League next season for the first time since 2002.

Looking Back and Remembering Those Left Behind

Felixstowe Museum asked to interview Lawrence and on the anniversary of D-Day itself, he was invited to the museum for the opening their new D-Day exhibition and to be recognised as one of those who had participated. Lawrence attended with both his sons, David and Paul, and their wives, Eileen and Gill, as well as Cotman residents Bill (also a WW2 veteran) and Kenneth who, although he was just too young to have fought, was keen to be there with his friends.

When their wartime actions were described as heroic, Lawrence asked never to be called a hero. "I am no hero”, he said, “Heroes were those left behind. We must never forget. We will never forget".

Discover Cotman House

Cotman House Care Home is situated within the beautiful seaside surroundings of Felixstowe and our environment is matched by the standard of care we deliver, where care is not just a service, but a commitment tailored to every resident. Our focus goes beyond the physical; we extend our care to encompass the unique needs of each individual, whether it's assisting with memory loss, providing specialised dementia care, or offering support with end-of-life care.

At Cotman House, we understand the challenges families face during difficult times, and that's why we take pride in our accreditation for 'End of Life' care. We're here to support not only your loved ones but your entire family through this journey.

Our vibrant and happy home isn't just about the physical space; it's a thriving community. Perfect for those who may be feeling lonely, Cotman House fosters an environment where residents find companionship and joy.

Lawrence at Felixstowe Museum
Marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day with a visit to Felixstowe Museum
Lawrence as a young sailor

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