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Ipswich family pays tribute to D-Day war hero Arthur Scoffield

PUBLISHED: 19:00 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:08 30 October 2017

D-Day veteran Arthur Scoffield awarded the Legion d'Honneur by French Military Attache Colonel Antoine de Loustal during a Rock Barracks Open Day in 2016. Picture: SIMON PARKER

D-Day veteran Arthur Scoffield awarded the Legion d'Honneur by French Military Attache Colonel Antoine de Loustal during a Rock Barracks Open Day in 2016. Picture: SIMON PARKER

Arthur Scoffield cried when he watched Saving Private Ryan at the cinema. The horrific realism of war depicted by Steven Spielberg perhaps got the better of the proud old Ipswich soldier.

Arthur Scoffield, who was in the Royal EngineersArthur Scoffield, who was in the Royal Engineers

Mr Scoffield, a decorated D-Day veteran, has died peacefully aged 101. He was surrounded by family at Ipswich Hospital on October 12. His family today pays tribute.

“He was just an old soldier. He was very proud,” they said. “He was always very chirpy. He always had some very quick one-liners.”

When asked at A&E after a fall whether he was diabetic, he would quip ‘no, I’m Church of England’. A nurse once asked him for the time. He said ‘it’s 20 minutes past two’. ‘That’s very accurate’. ‘Yes, there’s a clock behind your head’.

Arthur Scoffield celebrated his 100th birthday with family and Ipswich Mayor Glenn Chisholm in 2016. Picture: SU ANDERSONArthur Scoffield celebrated his 100th birthday with family and Ipswich Mayor Glenn Chisholm in 2016. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Mr Scoffield was the eldest of six children, born in Dillwyn Street, Ipswich, on February 17 1916. The Ipswich Town fan worked for Cranes before joining the Territorial Army in 1933. He wed Winifred (Bett) in 1938 – they were married for 70 years, having five children – and early in the war manned searchlights at Landguard Ford, Felixstowe.

Arthur later laid mines and volunteered for bomb disposal. He was wounded in an explosion and left in hospital for four months.

Then came D-Day. He landed on Juno Beach with the 26th Assault Squadron with the Canadian 3rd Division. They landed ahead of the main force to clear obstacles. Around 70 colleagues, mates, died.

Brothers Cyril and Arthur Scoffield both were in the service during D-Day. Picture: SU ANDERSONBrothers Cyril and Arthur Scoffield both were in the service during D-Day. Picture: SU ANDERSON

“They nicknamed them the ‘suicide squad’. They had to attach explosives to blow up obstacles. They were under fire all the time. He would be working with someone. There were bullets all around them. Then all of a sudden his mate would go ‘ah’ – and drift away. It was no wonder he did not want to talk about.”

‘I don’t know how many times I sang Abide With Me’ - Arthur’s D-Day account.

Arthur Scoffield with fellow D-Day veteran Stanley Chambers toasting their award of the Legion DHonneur by the French Government. Picture: LUCY TAYLORArthur Scoffield with fellow D-Day veteran Stanley Chambers toasting their award of the Legion DHonneur by the French Government. Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

After the war, his doctor gave him 18 months to live, and he could not get a mortgage. Seventy years later, with a Legion d’Honneur and a sharp mind, he was still proving them wrong.

His family added: “He used to get most upset on June 6. He was thinking about his mates. But he was pragmatic about it in his later years. He accepted what had happened and talked about it.

Arthur Scoffield and his wife Bett at their Golden Anniversary in 1988. They were married for 70 years. Picture: MATT STOTTArthur Scoffield and his wife Bett at their Golden Anniversary in 1988. They were married for 70 years. Picture: MATT STOTT

“On November 11 when we took him along, he’d wear his medals with pride. At the very end when he was quite infirm, he would always stand for the national anthem. He was a proud soldier.”

He leaves behind 12 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and five great great-grandchildren. Please donate to the Royal British Legion in his memory.

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