A tribute to Harrogate D-Day hero after he loses his final battle

Harrogate D-Day veteran John Rushton was a hero of World War Two and he lost his final battle at Harrogate Hospital on New Year’s Day at the age of 97.

By Matt Reeder
Friday, 7th January 2022, 5:15 pm
Updated Friday, 7th January 2022, 5:16 pm

As John Rushton approached Sword Beach in the early morning mist of June 6, 1944 he was fully focused on the job in hand.

Having celebrated his 20th birthday just a few weeks before, he now stood on his landing craft, approaching the heavily-fortified Normandy coastline, as part of the historic Allied invasion.

Without hesitation, he stepped out onto that beach with his comrades by his side and set about doing the job he was trained for - playing his part in the liberation of occupied Europe.

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Harrogate D-Day veteran John Rushton lost his final battle at Harrogate Hospital on New Year’s Day at the age of 97

When asked if he ever saw himself as a ‘hero’, the modest former Marine would reply “no, do I ‘eck as like... When I look back at D-Day I wouldn’t have missed it.

"It was needed.

"We had to do it.”

It was that fighting, determined, spirit which was in evidence again last week when he fought for his life in Harrogate Hospital.

Having been taken ill shortly after Christmas, this inspirational man did his best to cling on to life... but sadly lost this final fight.

To his family, friends and neighbours in Beech Road John was a kind, modest man who will be greatly missed.

His death, however, should still resonate deep for those of us who did not have the pleasure of knowing this hero in our midst.

John Rushton was willing to lay his life on the line for the very freedoms that we enjoy today.

He stepped onto that beach with machine guns and fighter-bombers spraying bullets at him with, as he says, only “a khaki uniform and a beret” as protection.

He may not have seen himself as a hero - instead wishing to lay such a moniker on those friends he left behind - but a hero he most definitely was and forever will be.

Thank you, John.

Rest in peace, you deserve it.