Born: November 12, 1923;

Died: February 9, 2021.

IAN Greig, who has died aged 97, was a military veteran and Navy telegraphist who was among the first of the Allied troops to land in France as part of the D-Day operation that marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War.

Thrown into the thick of it on June 6, 1944, he was badly injured and spent a year in hospital, but he always considered himself one of the lucky ones and returned many times to Normandy to pay tribute to the friends and comrades who did not return.

Called up for service in 1942 when he was 19, Ian spent an intense couple of years in training and preparation. He was taught Morse code at the signal school in Charing Cross in Glasgow and he and his fellow trainees would march to the classes in uniform along Sauchiehall Street. His training also took him to Yorkshire, Ayrshire and Orkney.

As a telegraphist with the Royal Navy, Ian’s job was to direct the artillery from battleships and for the naval phase of D-Day – codenamed Operation Neptune - his party was attached to the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry.

Some 7,000 vessels and 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces took part in the operation and landed on five beaches, codenamed Sword, Utah, Omaha, Gold and Juno, along 50 miles of the heavily-fortified French coast. It was one of the largest amphibious military assaults ever attempted.

Ian was part of a five-strong forward observation party that was sent with the first wave of the infantry to Sword Beach and landed on the coastline around 7.30am.

The men were seriously sea-sick after a difficult and stormy crossing, and were immediately pitched into a bloody battle. Flak was flying and one of the enemy snipers hiding in buildings along the beach shot Ian in the left arm, severing the radial and medium nerves. He was also wounded in his lower back, although fortunately his wireless set took most of the force of the blast.

Badly injured and heavily sedated, Ian was stretchered off the beach to the Polish destroyer Slazak, where he lay in the sick bay until she had finished the bombardment of the coast.

He was then transferred home and spent some six months in hospital in Sheffield before being moved to hospital in Killearn and then the Royal Naval Hospital in Kilmacolm. But even after being discharged in May 1945, he still required treatment to his arm which was paralysed for the rest of his life.

Ian never dwelt on his injuries and dedicated a lot of his time to the Royal British Legion and return trips to Normandy.

“I was one of the lucky ones to come out of it with only a disfigured left hand and arm,” he said. He was particularly pleased to take part in the 75th anniversary celebrations of D-Day in 2019 during which he met such notables as President Macron, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Duchess of Cornwall, and Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster.

John Ian Greig was born in Tollcross, Glasgow, to George and Margaret Greig. He was the second son in a family of five, and in later years he would sometimes remind his grandchildren that he’d grown up with an outside toilet and no central heating.

Being called up meant he saw parts of the country he might never have seen, and he particularly relished the time he spent on Orkney where he lodged with a family called the Harcuses “They treated me like a lord,” he said, and he went and stayed with them again a couple of times in later years.

After being discharged from the Navy, he started work in the steel industry at Colville’s in Motherwell and was eventually an assistant controller buying iron ore for British Steel after the company was nationalised.

After marrying Myra in 1950, he moved to East Kilbride where they raised their three children George, Colin, and Margaret. The family were regulars at the West Kirk, where Ian was an elder and member of the choir. He was also a keen member of the local horticultural society and won many awards at flower shows.

Sadly, Myra died of cancer in 1972, leaving Ian to look after two elderly parents and three young children. In 1986, he married again, to Elspeth, and the couple moved to Dumfries, where Ian could continue to indulge his love of singing as a member of the Dumfries Male Voice Choir. He was also a passionate follower of Queen of the South.

In later years, Ian became well known for his active role in the remembrance of D-Day and the Second World War and his most recent trip to Normandy in 2019 was particularly memorable.

He appeared on television with the historian Dan Snow; and Nicola Sturgeon also spoke about her meeting with him. She said meeting Ian in Bayeux had been a privilege. “We owe so much to him and his generation,” she said.

In 2015, Ian was among nine Scottish veterans presented with the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur by Emmanuel Cocher, consul general of France in Scotland, and Rear Admiral Patrick Chevallereau, the French Embassy’s defence attaché. The ceremony took place on the French navy destroyer Aquitaine while it was docked in Leith.

Ian Greig is survived by his three children, his step-children Iain, Eileen and Janette, his 14 grandchildren and his great-grandchildren.