At THE age of just 20, a young Oswestry man was sent over to the north of France in an attempt to free the country from Nazi-Germany occupation.

Stanley Williams fought during the Normandy Landings on June 6, 1944, and lived to tell his story.

After landing on Sword Beach, which proved to be the place at which there were more than 200,000 allied casualties with more than 4,000 soldiers confirmed dead; Stanley was one of the survivors.

The Selattyn-born man went on to fight battles in Dunkirk and was part of the Liberation of Antwerp, Belgium, in February 1945.

He returned to his hometown after the war with his wife who he met in Antwerp, before moving back to the Belgian city to live the rest of his life.

Stanley was the last surviving Normandy Landings veteran living in Antwerp, before his death earlier this month.

His family, including Tom Jones who still lives in Oswestry, travelled to Belgium for the funeral.

Attended by the mayor of Antwerp, Royal British Legion and military representatives, the packed funeral celebrated the life of a man who was the last of his kind in the city.

“I’ve never been to a funeral like it,” said Tom.

“He was my mother’s brother – the three brothers all served in the Second World War, but Stanley went over on the D-Day landings.

“He landed at Sword Beach and he was the last remaining soldier who fought in the battle for the freedom of Antwerp, and went on to live his life there.

“He was very well-thought of in Antwerp – his funeral was on national television there.

“During the 75th anniversary celebrations, he was invited to lunch with the King and Queen of Belgium.”

Stanley and his three brothers all went off to war.

He has attended many commemorative events in Antwerp since the war, and with fewer and fewer veterans attending each year, Stanley became the last of the Normandy Landings veterans living in the city.

He was a well-known figure there, and Tom said it was amazing to see so many people in attendance to pay their respects.

“It was very touching,” he said.

“Stanley was one of those people that would go to a party and no-one would know him at the start of the night; but by the end of the night, everyone would know – in the best sort of way.

“He would talk for ages, he was such a lovely man from a very humble background. His family was very hard-working, as was he. He took three jobs while living in Belgium just so his family could survive.”

Lynne Northwood-Jones, niece to Stanley, also attended the funeral and said she hopes the stories people like Stanley have shared from the war will live on.

She said: “It was quite a big deal.

“We’ve always loved him for what he’s done and he’s always been a big part of the celebrations and commemorations since the war.

“He was very positive and had a very active life.

“We are a very close family so we’d often go over to see him and the cousins we have who live over there.

“To be honest, when he was younger, it was known that he and his brothers were in the war, but it wasn’t something that was talked about all that much.

“But after retiring and getting older and there being fewer veterans, it became a bigger part of his life again so he began to talk about it more again.

“I know he went to Dunkirk as part of a regiment and then they moved towards Antwerp where they were part of the Liberation of Antwerp.

“But I think his wife got homesick, because they didn’t stay here for a very long time before moving back.

“He was very proud of it and very proud of his heritage and being Welsh – the Welsh National Anthem was sung at the funeral and parts of it were in Welsh.”

Lynne hopes the next generation are able to learn about the history of the war.

She explained: “I think more than anything, it is important that we teach the next generation about it.

“It’s massively important because I think it will be difficult now we’re without a lot of the veterans to put it into perspective.

“My children were at the funeral, and it’s lovely to see the next generation being so proud of him.

“My son’s 21, so I can’t imagine him having to go away to do what Stanley did.”