The son of a Second World War hero is making some of his father’s memorabilia public for the first time on the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The items, including a German soldier’s leather Nazi wallet and a letter sent to every soldier in the build-up to the Normandy invasion, have sat hidden in John Bishop’s house since they were passed to him by his mother at the age of 14.
Now, as the world commemorates seven decades since the Allied invasion of German-occupied territories in mainland Europe, the 73-year-old has decided to share some of the items collected by his late father Sergeant Thomas Charles Bishop.
Sgt Bishop was among thousands of troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy in the largest British military operation that began the end of the Second World War.
Aged 34, the former milkman from Walthamstow battled through France, Belgium and Italy with the Pioneers before returning home in February 1946.
He brought back with him the memories of a horrifying and bloody war, as well as a collection of memorabilia that gives a glimpse into the life of a soldier at that time.
Mr Bishop, of Barclay Road, Edmonton, said: “He never spoke about the war really. He just said he hoped to God I would never have to see or go through anything like that. The significance of these items has grown on me over the years as I’ve got older, and I thought now was a good time to share them.”
The collection includes his father’s military record book and a pocket propaganda booklet featuring several pictures of Adolf Hitler, as well as his military badges and medals.
There are also some fascinating first-hand photographs, believed to have been taken by Sergeant Bishop’s comrade, including the signing of the official surrender treaty by the German army.
Sergeant Bishop sadly passed away 32 years ago from a brain tumour at the age of 56.
But his legacy lives on in the memories of his son and the items he collected on his battle through Europe.
Mr Bishop said: “The generation coming up behind me should realise what war is. It is not a Hollywood production, it is devastating – a terrible thing. I have made sure my sons and grandson know about that.
“I feel very proud that my father was part of it, and very proud that we can sit here today talking about it because if the Nazis had won, we’d all be speaking German now.”