He was one of Doncaster's last veterans of World War Two – and friends gathered to honour him this week after he died aged 95
Wilf Staton was among the soldiers who took part in the Battle of Normandy following the D Day landings in 1944, serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps as the Allies pushed the Germans back.
Friends and family honoured his memory at his funeral at Rose Hill Crematorium following his death last month after a short illness.
Among those mourning Wilf was his nephew, the former Doncaster rugby league star Stewart Piper.
Wilf, from Bentley, joined the Home Guard when World War Two first broke out in 1939 at the age of 17, working as a fire watcher in the Woodlands area.
But he was called up to the army on his 18th birthday. He wanted to join the air force, but was put into the army, said Mr Piper.
“The first thing he learned to do was carry a strecher,” he added. “They were responsible for injuries and recovery.
“He landed in Normandy seven days after D Day, and saw a lot of unpleasant things when he was there, but he said he got a taste for French wine.
“He was a quiet unassuming man and sharp as a razor until the day he died.
“He didn’t like to talk about the war. He just got on with the job and wanted to forget about it, but I did get to hear a few stories from him.
“For instance, one of his friends got his arm blown off by a mortar shell while they were on guard duty in France. They had been in dug-outs while there were a lot of pockets of Germans around.
“Another of his colleagues was seriously injured by a booby trap in a knocked out tank when they got to Germany. I think it blew up when he lifted the lid into it. Wilf was with him at the time. He felt he had lucky escapes.”
After the war Wilf served with the army in Palestine, before he finally left the forces in 1948.
He had various jobs in civilian life, including working at Bentley Colliery and International Harvesters on Wheatley Hall Road. He went on to work at the Doncaster Plantworks in Hexthorpe, painting steam locomotives including Mallard and Flying Scotsman.
“I admire him for what he did,” said Stewart. “He must have had some courage. He must have seen some terrible things and had to recover dead bodies.”