War is stupid says pacifist Normandy veteran

Wellington's George Evans, who turns 96 later this month , fought in the grim campaign in the wake of the landings, and is these days is a leading light in a different campaign – the campaign for peace.

George was a Private in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and landed on D-Day plus 20, but his whole division was soon broken up because it had suffered so many casualties.

His wartime experiences affected him deeply. He became a Quaker and a pacifist, campaigning to end war, and was the instigator of Wellington's Peace Garden.

Of D-Day, he says: "Too right it was a longest day. It lasted from June 6, 1944, to May 8, 1945, but many people now seem to think it was one day.

"They also believe it was about heroes. It was about killing men, women and children. I was there.

"D-Day is being remembered by a parade but the day the war ended was ignored. Peace is more important than war and should be celebrated.

"Many of my mates died. There were 70 per cent casualties in our first battle. They died because they happened to be in the wrong place. I was very lucky indeed to survive.

"War is fine for politicians and arms dealers who gain power and wealth but not for those who are called up, whose homes are bombed and whose families are murdered. That goes for both sides.

"My memories of the landings (on D +20) include having to jump, loaded with machine gun and ammunition, include having to jump from a ship to a landing craft while both were riding waves.

"One slip and I would have been dead. Then, in a tracked gun carrier, we drove through the waves and up the beach.

"There was the stench of rotting body parts – arms, legs, heads, hands, being eaten by blow-flies, and a bullet whistled overhead telling us that there was a sniper firing at us. I suppose he must have been a very brave man.

"Learn the lesson of war. It is stupid and murderous. It's about the foul stench of rotting dead bodies, about terror, horror and misery. It's about nasty people getting all the power and the credit and the money.

"Don't vote for super-nationalists who will insult other countries' leaders or cosy up to very bellicose countries. We have to look carefully right now.

"War is stupid."

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