Tributes have been paid for a Dorset war hero and D-Day veteran who volunteered as an ambassador for Blind Veterans UK

Edward Gaines, known as Eddie, died aged 98 at his home in Poole.

Born in 1925, he left school at 16 and took up an engineer’s apprenticeship but when a bomb destroyed the firm where he was studying he joined the Royal Navy.

After initially training on motor gunboats at Portland, Eddie transferred to become a petrol stoker on landing craft.

He set off from Poole on June 4 in preparation for the Allied invasion of France.

He worked on Omaha Beach transporting ammunition, equipment and men, for several months and served in Normandy until Christmas Eve 1944.

Bournemouth Echo:

However, later in his life Eddie started to lose his sight from age-related macular degeneration and started receiving support from Blind Veterans UK.

Speaking about the charity, Eddie said: “I was over the moon that the man at the library gave me the card for Blind Veterans UK and told me to get in touch.

“I came away from my first visit to their Brighton centre a new man.

“They gave me a special reader that magnifies documents to a huge size.

“It allowed me to still look after my own correspondence.”

Eddie was so grateful to the organisation that he flew the charity’s flag outside his home for the last years of his life.

Bournemouth Echo:

Blind Veterans UK also arranged for Eddie and a fellow Dorset D-Day veteran to be presented with the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion D’Honneur in recognition of their part in the liberation of France.

Eddie said at the time: “I am hugely honoured to be presented with this medal.

“I feel that we both are receiving it on behalf of all of those who didn’t make it back.

“I was off Omaha Beach on D-Day and 3,000 men died there before noon alone.”

Bournemouth Echo: Eddie (right) and fellow D-Day veteran Peter (left). Eddie (right) and fellow D-Day veteran Peter (left). (Image: Blind Veterans UK)

Eddie became one of the most prominent ambassadors for Blind Veterans UK and was featured on TV screens, posters and even on the side of a bus.

Eddie died on Friday, April 21, at his home in Poole, Dorset.

His four children and 16 grandchildren have set up a tribute page in his honour so that others can continue to support the charity in his name.