D-Day 80th Anniversary: Proud son of Wandsworth Borough

Published: Thursday, June 6, 2024

General Sir Richard Gale is celebrated today for his role in liberating Europe from Nazi tyranny 80 years ago. General Gale led a division of troops into occupied territory by air - landing himself by glider in occupied France.

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General Sir Richard Gale, 1944

On the 80th Anniversary of the D-Day landings Wandsworth Council leads the borough in expressing our deep gratitude to General Gale, UK forces as a whole, and Allied troops from across 13 countries - we remember and honour their sacrifice.

The invasion of the beaches at Normandy by Allied troops was the largest military naval, air and land operation ever attempted and was a significant turning point in the war, marking the beginning of the liberation of France.

Mayor of Wandsworth, Cllr Sana Jafri said: “On this special anniversary, we have learned of one individual who had a major role in planning the Allied airborne invasion of Normandy, was a son of a Wandsworth resident.

“General Richard Gale was critical to the successful D-Day landings, training and organising the 6th Airborne Division and pioneering a never before attempted full air deployment into enemy territory.

“We reflect with gratitude on General Gale’s sacrifice, as we do the 250,000 personnel who were involved in the Normandy landings – and the 10,000 who died fighting for freedom. We Will Remember Them.”

General Sir Richard Gale was born 25th July 1896 on Oakhill Road in Putney. Having served in the First World War and continuing through the inter-war period, by 1943 Gale had earned the rank of Major-General and was put in charge of the newly-formed 6th Airborne Division.

He spent the year prior to the Normandy landings training and organising the Division. No British airborne division had ever been deployed into battle entirely through aerial means and Gale was responsible for forming the tactics for the operation.

 In June 1944, Gale accompanied his Division and landed in occupied France. He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his involvement in the mission.

Gale retired from military service in 1960 and died a few days after his 86th birthday in Kingston-upon-Thames, 1982.