Derek Tapson's D-Day story

Derek Tapson’s Remarkable D-Day Story

102 year old D-Day Veteran Derek Tapson, Flight Lieutenant of the RAF 197 Typhoon Squadron.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. A series of commemorations are happening in the UK and France, to honour the brave personnel who risked their lives for freedom and peace.

We give tribute and re-tell the remarkable story of our resident Derek Tapson who bravely served on D-Day in Normandy, and lives with us at Astell House care home in Cheltenham.

Typhoon plane

Derek was trained as an RAF pilot in America. In December 1943 he joined 197 Squadron at Tangmere, flying Typhoons and operating against German radar sites, shipping and mechanical transport over France. From April 1944 he flew from Needs Oar Point bombing radar sites on the French coast.

On D-Day, 6 June 1944 more than 130,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy. The largest seaborne invasion in history, it laid the groundwork for the liberation of Western Europe and was a major turning point in the Second World War.

Derek flew fighter sweeps in support of troops on the beaches.

After D-Day the squadron continued beyond the beachhead, giving close support to Canadian troops (using B3 a specially prepared airfield at St Croix sur Mer). Bombing both German positions and their armour in Normandy.

In July 1944, he joined 84 group Support Unit flying Typhoons and supplies to Normandy beachhead airfields.

Offensive operations continued over France, then Holland and Germany.

Derek was shot down on 8 February 1945, was captured and became Prisoner of War in Germany.

The Battle of Normandy lasted until the end of August as British, American, French, Canadian, Polish and other Allied forces pushed German forces beyond the River Seine.

Derek was awarded in 2015 the French Government’s Highest Award,

The Legion D’Honneur

for his and the Squadrons role in the liberation of France from occupation.

Here’s a clip of the presentation BBC Points West video

Derek receiving medal
Derek Tapson's medal

The Squadron’s motto was,

Findimus Cealum, We Cleave the Sky

Its badge was a sabre held in a lion’s paw, a reference to the Napier Sabre engine of the Typhoon. 197 Squadron RAF was disbanded in August 1945.

For more about the squadron visit:

Derek’s daughter Heather commented,

“Sadly, so many veterans, never really talked about their service to their families. I can understand it, as it was a difficult time for all. I was born at the end of the war in December 1944 and there was food rationing for another 10 years. We can’t imagine that now, can we? Thank goodness! We as a family really appreciate the love and compassion shown by the wonderful staff at Astell over these last eight years.”

Astell House team shared,

“Caring for Derek at Astell House for the last 8 years has been a great privilege for everyone who works here.”
A hero and a gentleman with a very remarkable story.
Astell House care home

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