Local war veteran returns to Normandy - 75 years on
SAWTELL World War II veteran Ross Kingston is today commemorating the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy.
As a young naval seaman Ross, now aged 94, manned a British vessel off the coast of France on that historic day, June 6, 1944.
This week he is one of 300 veterans commemorating the campaign as the guest of the Royal British Legion on the Voyage of Remembrance.
Born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1924, Ross answered the call to arms at the height of World War II enlisting in the Royal Navy on October 26, 1943.
After basic training at Stoke on Trent, he was posted to Portsmouth on May 4, 1944 and joined the crew of the HMS Bulolo where he served as an officer's cook.
HMS Bulolo, originally an Australian passenger ship, had been converted for wartime operations.
Joining the staff of Commodore Douglas Pennant, Ross was involved in Operation Neptune, the largest amphibious landing in history, that saw 156,000 Allied troops storm the French coastline in the move to liberate France from Nazi Germany's occupation.
Honoured for his involvement in that operation centred off Arromaches, Ross was later awarded the French Legion of Honour Medal in 2016.
Speaking about his time on board HMS Bulolo, Ross said the ship was visited by King George VI and British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
Stepping down from the British Royal Navy in 1946, Ross two years later answered the call of the Royal Australian Navy emigrating to Nowra where he would serve for six years.
Ross said a career highlight was marching in the Coronation Parade, on June 2 1953, in front of the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II.
A year later he served in the escort party when the Queen and Prince Phillip visited Sydney.
Ross completed his Royal Australian Navy service in November 1954 and became an Australian citizen in 1980.
Last Friday, Ross set off with his travelling companion Jim Holmes on the 'Voyage of Remembrance' landing in London and travelling onto to Dover, Dunkirk and Normandy today.
Ross now lives in Boambee Gardens Estate, where he met his sweetheart, Betty Young.
'Settling in Australia was the best thing I ever did,' he said.