NORMANDY veteran and bandsman from Poole, Maurice Sidney Best, has died at the age of 99.
The middle child of nine, Maurice was brought up in a three bedroom house in Ringwood Road, Parkstone. He attended Branksome Heath School and had a love of music which led him to follow in his father's footsteps into the Salvation Army.
He was married to his late wife Lucy for 68 years and they had two children, the late Yvonne and her younger sister Marise. At first they lived in Farcroft Road but later moved to Jersey Close at Alderney, and after the girls left home they moved to Hamworthy, buying a first floor flat in Lake Road.
"His love of music saw him play for the Royal Artillery Band, Ferndown Brass and Ringwood and Burley, and on occasion he also conducted. His instrument of choice was the soprano cornet. Alongside music, football was also a great love of his and he loved to go and watch the local football clubs and of course the Cherries. During retirement he played golf at the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club. He was also a member of the Society of Poole Men," said his granddaughter Julie Barrett.
From working in a local grocer store as a young boy he then got a job at Marks and Spencer which was interrupted by the outbreak of war. After serving his country for six years, on his return home, Maurice was offered the position of auditor because of his leadership and organisation skills. This position took him all over the country. He continued to work for Marks and Spencer for 43 years and upon his retirement spent his time with his grandchildren.
"On joining the army during the war, Maurice went into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer Class ll. After being sent to Scotland on a special mission he was later told that this was in preparation for the D-Day landings. Maurice was one of the first people to land, securing the ammunition for the troops that were to follow. He was also mentioned in Dispatches and received a message from the King which was always proudly displayed at home alongside an invitation from the Queen to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace," said Julie.
Every June, until he was in his early eighties, Maurice would, with other Normandy Veterans, take the salute and walk passed the Cenotaph at Whitehall.
Early this year, just after his 99th birthday, he received the Legion D' Honneur, France's top honour for helping to liberate the country in the war.
Maurice passed away after a short illness on March 17 and his funeral was held at Poole Crematorium on April 7. He is survived by a brother, youngest daughter Marise, son-in-law, three grandchildren, six great grandchildren and six great great grandchildren.