A 90-year-old war veteran hoping to knock Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber from the top of the UK singles chart penned his song about the D-Day landings after being “moved to tears” by a trip to France 25 years after being part of the invasion.
Jim Radford’s haunting ballad The Shores Of Normandy is on track to dethrone the pop duo’s joint hit I Don’t Care on the 75th anniversary of the landings on the French coast.
Mr Radford, the youngest known D-Day veteran, said he was inspired to write the folk song about his experiences as a 15-year-old on a ship on June 6 1944.
He told the Press Association: “It was a very hard song for me to write because it meant reliving very harrowing experiences.
“I hadn’t realised that, without knowing how I’d done it, I’d managed to convey that emotional impact to other people.
“I was very surprised that large numbers of people had contacted me to say they had been moved by it.”
Mr Radford wrote the song after an emotional return to Arromanches-les-Baines in Normandy in 1969, 25 years after his experience of the war.
What he saw moved him to tears and prompted him to put down his memories in a folk song.
He said: “By that time I thought the memories would have faded a bit. I got used to it. You get on and live your life after the war.
“But standing on the beach at Arromanche 25 years later brought it all back to me. The contrast between the scene I saw then – children playing on a pleasant seaside beach – and what it was like 25 years earlier.
“I saw it with landing platforms and bodies lying about everywhere, especially in the water. The contrast struck me.
“I was moved. I was moved to tears by it. I thought ‘I must record this’.”
Today the Trust releases the D-Day 75 single 'The Shores of Normandy' by veteran Jim Radford. Jim, 90, was 15 years old on D-Day & wrote the ballad when he returned to Normandy 25 years later. Download from online music stores & https://t.co/XCkuqF80Dy#normandymemorial#DDay75pic.twitter.com/OIU9JG0Ah5
— Normandy Memorial Trust (@normandymtrust) May 22, 2019
Mr Radford, who was born in Hull and now lives in Lewisham, south-east London, was a galley boy on Merchant Navy tug Empire Larch.
Despite the Navy not being officially allowed to sign up under-16s, Mr Radford found a towing company willing to ignore the rules.
His ship was one of the first to arrive in Normandy to help build the Mulberry Harbour, allowing the Royal Navy to transport personnel, vehicles and supplies on to the beaches.
Money raised will go to the British Normandy Memorial, a sculpture in the town of Ver-sur-Mer recording the 22,442 names of those under British command who died during the famous counter-offensive.
Mr Radford admitted he would struggle to recognise the music of pop heavyweights Bieber and Sheeran.
He said: “I’ve heard of them but I’m a folk singer. I don’t follow pop music much.
“These stars like this Bieber, I’m not sure I’d recognise his songs. He probably doesn’t listen to me.”
You can watch and download the song on the trust’s website – www.normandymemorialtrust.org and on all online music stores.