Blind war veteran honoured by France and his home town of Wisbech, dies
- Credit: Archant
John McIntosh, a blind Second World War veteran from Wisbech awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Legion d’Honneur for his part in the liberation of France, has died.
Mr McIntosh, who survived being blown up by a land-mine during the war, was also presented with the honorary freedom of Wisbech four years ago.
He was drafted to the army in June 1943 and became part of 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry.
He trained in Leeds, Edinburgh and then had intensive training preparing for the Normandy Landings in the South of England.
Mr McIntosh, who took part in the landings in June 1944, once recalled: “We had several skirmishes with the Germans but nothing too serious.
“Between us and the Americans we chased them out of France and Belgium.”
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He was set to go back to Brussels and rest before pushing through to Germany, however, instead he spent the winter of 1944 in the Netherlands.
Early in 1945, he went to support the Americans in the Ardennes as the Germans had pushed through the American lines.
“We were going through a forest path when my commander stepped on a land-mine which blew him and myself up,” he said. “I was lucky I only had some shrapnel wounds.
“Afterwards, I kept getting headaches and, after I was examined, it turned out it was my sinuses causing the pain after the blast.”
As a result, John was transferred to the Royal Army Supply Corps until he was demobbed in 1946.
Mr McIntosh re-joined the company he had worked for before the war, which is where he met his wife.
He started his own company a few years later selling men’s work wear, which he did until he retired in 1991.
John first noticed he was losing his sight around 14 years ago. After seeing a specialist, he was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), a leading cause of sight loss in older people.
A spokesperson for Wisbech Town Council said: “The Mayor, Cllr Andrew Lynn, Deputy Mayor, Cllr Susan Wallwork, and the other members were saddened to learn of the passing of John McIntosh.”