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Sailors and veterans wanted to support Essex D-Day veteran’s funeral

Enjoying retirement in his 90s
23 May 2022
Are you able to give a few hours of your time to give D-Day veteran Cyril Banks the send-off his service deserves?

The D-Day, Arctic Convoy and Pacific Fleet veteran died earlier this month aged 97.

Friends would like a strong military presence at his funeral in Harlow at the end of May – be they serving or veterans/associations – as Cyril was proud of his achievements and never forgot his shipmates.

Born in January 1925 in Birchanger, Bishops Stortford, Cyril Banks enlisted in the Royal Navy in 1943, aged 18, and joined the minesweeper HMS Ready as an anti-aircraft gunner.

Cyril’s first months at sea were spent in the harsh Arctic convoys and in the North Sea patrolling for U-boats before moving to the Channel to support the invasion of Europe.

Ready was committed clearing the approaches to what would become Gold Beach, leading the 8th Minesweeping flotilla.

Ready swept her first mine at 11pm on the night before D-Day and remained in harm’s way under the guns of the Atlantic Wall. As the landings progressed the next day, the ship’s company witnessed some horrific sights.

“We saw bodies floating in the water, including an American paratrooper who became caught in the cords of his twisted chute when he down in the water,” Cyril recalled.

“We found him drowned but later gave him a decent burial at sea. The horrendous things that were happening will live in my mind forever.”

Cyril was subsequently posted to a Landing Ship (Tank) in the Channel before sailing to the Far East, where he took part in operations against the Japanese and assisted in the repatriation of Australian prisoners of war.

Upon leaving the Royal Navy he returned to Bishop’s Stortford and remained there for the rest of his life, working as a carpenter.

From 1999 onwards he benefited from the support of the Not Forgotten Charity which organises recreation, holidays and entertainment for veterans.

In return, Cyril became an ambassador and fund-raiser for the charity, abseiling 110ft down a water tower in Harlow and taking a 12-minute wing walk… both at the age of 88. He was also a regular tin rattler at nearby Stansted Airport and London’s Victoria Station – collecting more than £16,000 for the charity in a ten-year period.

Described by those who knew him as “a remarkable man”, he was honoured later in life by the French Government – like many of those involved in the Normandy campaign – with the Legion d’Honneur.

His funeral takes place at 4.30pm on May 30 at Parndon Wood Road Crematorium, Harlow, Essex, CM19 4SF.

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