In the early 1960s my father, a lay reader in the Church of England, was in charge of the annual Remembrance Day in Carlisle. At one service I took a picture of an elderly and much-decorated local hero who had served in both the Boer War and World War One.

1960s – the veteran at Carlisle Cenotaph. (Keith Gregson)
1960s – the veteran at Carlisle Cenotaph. (Keith Gregson)

I was a teenager at the time and now wish I had taken time to ask him about his experiences. Today we discover that nearly all the ‘oral primary sources’ for the two great 20th-century conflicts have departed. Those remaining are likely to recall frightening childhood nights spent in dank air raid shelters rather than tales of battle. However, I still have stories to pass on as a result of (eventually) putting my own childhood lack of proactivity to one side and starting to seek out tales from those who did take part in those conflicts. On the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings I feel beholden to share some of these stories with readers of Discover Your Ancestors .