D-Day veteran and Taxi Charity stalwart dies at 96

Ken Watts was among the thousands of men and women involved in ‘Operation Overlord’

Friday, 3rd September 2021 — By Helen Chapman

Ken Watts at Menin Gate May 2016

Ken Watts at the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, in May 2016

A VETERAN of the D-Day landings has died at the age of 96.

Ken Watts, who lived in Lofting Road, Barnsbury, was part of the first wave of infantry who landed on Gold Beach in 1944 under heavy gunfire from Germany.

He served for four years during the Second World War and in 1944 he was among the thousands of men and women involved in “operation overlord” landing on D-Day.

In 1947 Ken returned to York Way Motors where he had started working in 1939. He was involved with the London taxi trade, selling cab parts from the 1950s until his retirement.

At a memorial event held in 2019, Ken told the Tribune: “I consider myself lucky that I returned. War is horror and you don’t forget it. You dream about it sometimes when you see your comrades.

“Particularly this one guy. He turned to me and said: ‘There they are, Ken.’ They were the last words he gasped. The bullet could have hit me but it hit him. We were lucky because our landing craft didn’t land in the spot it should have done. We landed further north, so instead of meeting the enemy head-on we met them side-on, as it were. This helped us take the beach.”

Ken was one of the longest serving veterans of the Taxi Charity supporting military veterans and a member of the Islington Veterans’ Association.

Lynda Kiss, Ken’s cousin said: “I know how much he valued the work the Taxi Charity did for all the veterans. He was a great age and had a short illness before he passed away.”

Second World War veteran Roy Nash said: “RIP Ken. You have done your bit for all of us. I shall miss our chats on the phone. I shall see you when it’s my turn. God bless.”

Graham Pike, London Cabbie and Taxi Charity volunteer, said: “Ken was a very quiet unassuming gentlemen who had been part of our fundraising collection team since the team was formed 10 years ago and will be missed by everyone at the Taxi Charity.”

Ken leaves his wife of 10 years, Eileen.

To find out more about the Taxi Charity visit www.taxicharity.org

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