Biography: Albert Sutton [fr]
On 13 November, on the occasion of the inauguration of the France-Ireland Memorial, the French Secreteray of State to Veterans and Collective Memory, Jean Marc Todeschini, will award the Légion d’Honneur to Albert Sutton, veteran from the Second World War.
Born on 21 November 1921, Mr. Albert Sutton was born and raised in the North of Dublin, near the village of Malahide. He was working at a wood merchant in 1939, when the declaration of war forced him to quit his job due to the inaccessibility of Eastern Europe’s forests.
As one of his friend enlisted in the British armed forces in Belfast, Albert Sutton decided to “hurry before the end of the war” and enlisted without the consent of his family. He was appointed at first in the Royal Artillery and joined the Royal Air Force on his friends’ advice.
Sent in training in Padgate in county Yorkshire, he first discovered the reality of the war in the London Underground during the Blitz where he narrowly escaped the bombing of a movie theatre while he was on leave. He was trained as a technician and showed great aptitudes in mechanics. He thus became Leading Aircraftman and was responsible of checking the mechanic of each devices of his unit. He confirms nowadays that none of his unit’s plane fell due to mechanical problems.
On 6 June 1944, Albert Sutton landed on Gold Beach with the first wave of assault. He still remembers the German signs indicating the presence of mines. He walked on the first wave’s footprints before joining the Canadian forces that had landed on Juno Beach. From there, his unit was driven by trucks to the aerodromes created to welcome and repair the planes of the RAF.
After passing through Belgium, his unit was sent to take part in the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen camp. From that day, Albert recalls the smell as he was approaching the camp and the emaciated corps which he found in the camp.
The war ended as he was at the Kastrup camp in Denmark, where he was waiting to be transferred to Japan to support the American army. However, his transfer never occurred as two atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In the following weeks, he met a Danish girl, Irene Gudrun, who came back with him to Ireland. Upon his demobilization, he hopped to join the Garda Siochana (Irish police forces) but his level in Irish was not good enough for him to pass the test. Thus, he moved to England and joined the London Metropolitan police, where he worked until he retired.
Albert received various British military decorations, including: the D-Day Normandy Landing medal, the Battle of Britian medal, and the Long Service War Time medal.