To mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings we would like to share the story of William (Bill) Jospeh Jackson.

Bill with pipe
William (Bill) Jackson Image with kind permission of Dawn Cole

Bill was born in Margate on 10th October 1918 to Edith and Joseph Jackson. Bill was a fun loving man, spontaneous, loved a party, played the piano and accordian, was a talented artist and maker and a very lovely man. Bill’s career began at Bobby & Co, at their Thanet Press print works in Union Crescent, Margate, where he trained and became a bookbinder. It was also there that he met the girl of his dreams, Gladys (Jackie) Beeson who was working in the office and they married in 1940.

Thanet Press bindery, C1930. Image courtesy of Stuart Hickson


Bill left Bobby & Co to become the Warehouse Manager for a Hereford firm of bookbinders and in 1939 enlisted into the Royal Field Artillary as a Signaller. He was posted to Norfolk and then Lockerbie, Scotland before being sent abroad.

No. 948888 Bdr William Joseph Jackson Royal Artillery Image with permission of Dawn Cole

If it wasn’t for family archives this is all we would have known about Bill, this much told to us by his sister who was only 15 when her beloved brother was killed in action on 27th November 1944.

Bill’s neice is Dawn Cole – one third of Appletye – and just before Christmas 2018 she decided to try and trace Jackie and her family. She knew that Jackie had remarried after the war to a man called Graham Dearden and that they had a business in Cliftonville, so a posting on a Facebook page called Cliftonville Nostalgia seemed a good starting point. Within an hour Dawn received a response from Jackie’s daughter, Carol.

On meeting Carol in Dec 2018 Dawn discovered that sadly Jackie had passed away earlier that year, but on going through her possessions the family had discovered a package, wrapped in brown paper and containing  numerous letters, documents and items from her life with Bill.

This bundle of letters gives us not only an insight into Bill and Jackie’s life together and his thoughts about the war but also the revelation that he was involved in the D-Day landings, or as they are described in this letter; the Normandy Campaign.

With Carol’s permission we are sharing this letter, written by the Captain of Bill’s battalion.

Dear Mrs Jackson

By the time this letter reaches you you will have been notified officially of your husbands death.  But we would like you to know what a shock it was to the battery to hear that you had suffered such a sad loss, and so soon after your husband’s return from England. I only hope that you will be able to find some consolation, however small, in the fact that he was able to come home and see you.

During the Normandy campaign I was for most of the time Troop Commander of A Troop, and as my N.C.O in charge of signals your husband was with me in several attacks. I had the greatest confidence in him and he never let me down, though conditions were often difficult and dangerous. He was a great favourite in the troop and his loss was felt most deeply. Every officer and man in the battery sympathises with you  in your very sad loss.

Yours sincerely

Ronald Lewin

Capt R A


Bill_3a_from Capt
Letter reproduced with kind permission of Carol Titmus