Oliver Coulthard, D-Day veteran

Oliver Coulthard, who has died at 94, was one of Yorkshire’s last surviving veterans of D-Day and also a well-known post-war publican in West Yorkshire.

Oliver Coulthard

Born in Ravensthorpe, near Dewsbury, he joined the Royal Navy in 1942, aged 17, and a few weeks later was dispatched to HMS Tornado.

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He sailed to America, before returning to Europe in 1943. He was well placed for the landings on the Normandy beaches in June 1944, which saw 24,000 soldiers land in occupied France. He was on board a minesweeper, which trawled the ocean for mines and explosives before the first soldiers were unloaded on to the beaches.

He left the Navy after the war and returned to Wakefield, where he settled in Wrenthorpe and married Kathlyn Mellor in 1950. With their family extended by the birth of their daughter, Janet, they became publicans of the Jolly Sailor, on Thornes Lane Wharf, before moving to the Blue Light on Green Lane, Alverthorpe.

But he never forgot his wartime exploits. Working with the D-Day Revisited charity, he paid regular visits to Normandy, to remember and pay tribute to his fallen friends and comrades. In 2015 he was awarded the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest decoration.