Edward Walter Blaber

This story and photos are shared by the Trust with kind permission from James Blaber, Edward Blaber’s grandson and Jean Blaber, Edward’s daughter-in-law

Edward (Ted) Walter Blaber was the son of Edward and Elsie Blaber and served as a Sapper in 72 Field Company, 102 Beach Sub-Area, Royal Engineers.

Before the war he had worked as an Analytical Chemist.

He met his future wife, Jessie, on the 4th August 1938 and they got engaged on the 26 October 1940.

They married on 1 March 1942 at Romford Road Congregational Church, Forest Gate, all of which was recorded on the back of a postcard of her which she had sent to him.

They had one son, Mike, but Ted only saw him once, when he returned on leave when Mike was 4 months old.

Ted landed in Normandy on Nan sector, Juno Beach on the 6th June 1944. He was killed on the 12th of June. Jessie first received a telegram to tell her he had been wounded and then received the terrible news that he had died of his wounds. His platoon commander, Lt Everton, wrote to her about it on 14th June. In it he gave details of the circumstances of Edward's death and the esteem his comrades held him in.

He wrote: "His platoon, whose officer I am, were engaged in the clearance of a minefield for a project of great importance, and as anti-personnel mines of a dangerous nature were to be expected, according to reports received, the clearance was undertaken by hand.

Some satisfactory progress had been made when I heard an explosion and turned around to see him on the ground with wounds in the chest and leg. A motor cyclist was sent at once to a nearby Field Dressing Station, and he was removed by ambulance. Meanwhile, he had been given what First Aid was possible.

On arrival at the Field Dressing Station he was given an immediate blood transfusion, but his condition was such that an operation was considered impossible by the surgeons. He died without regaining consciousness at 7.25pm on 12th June.

I fully realise that nothing that I could possibly write could be of any assistance to you in your grief, but I would like to add that I have never seen such courage as his before he lost consciousness. He said to the Platoon First Aid man who was attending him, "Tell Mr Everton I am sorry." Any man who could say that in such circumstances shows courage of the highest order.

His loss will be felt deeply both by his comrades and the other officers, by whom he was both highly thought of and well liked."

Ted's sister, Florrie wrote to their mum about the news:

"I had just got back to work from dinner today when Mrs Odden walked in the shop. I thought she was going to say something haad happened to Jessie & Michael. But I never thought of it being Ted. Jessie was with her & was outside. They came to the shop first & I came home with them. They couldn't stop long as they had left Michael with Isabel....Jessie & her mother came over yesterday to get the pram. I expect mum told you all about it. She had a new one after all. ...P.S. Jessie went to her mother's to tea after they got the pram & it was when she got home she got the letter."

Ted was initially buried in Bernieres-sur-Mer before being reintered in Bayeux War Cemetery on 28th December 1944.

Three photos of Ted's temporary grave markers, the first one showing that his rank and unit had been recorded incorrectly


His grave was adopted by a Madame Lemaitre and she wrote to the family in September 1947 to let them know.

Mme Lamitre then wrote to Jessie in December 1947 to thank her for the photo of Edward that she had sent. "How much I thank you for your delicate attention to send me your dear husband's photo. I have put it at the place of honour, and be assured it is truly an honour for me to have it in my home....If some day you decide to come and make a pilgrimage here, I open for you my house: mine will be yours. Don't worry about that."

We also have this letter in our possession which was written, date unknown, by Mme Lemaitre and looks like it has been translated. It shows how much she cared about her role of looking after Ted's grave.

"A moment ago I should have made your acquaintance at the English Cemetery, but I got there a little to late and unhappily I've just heard of your visit from the lady in charge of the graves. I'm sorry I missed the chance as I should have been able to learn something of the soldier named Blaber: indeed you are all dear soldiers like Blaber, and you are ours too. We have lived so near you since the invasion, and we ourselves have received you at our tables. Why do men dare make war? Why don't all the powers get together and give themselves a chance to understand each other better?

The idea of adopting an English garve had no sooner occured to me than it was done. Blaber shall be visited by me. I am Catholic: he will have my prayers. I am certain that he will be watching me when my hands place some flowers instad (sic) of other hands which distance keeps away from thier dear departed. Those who left us are no longer where they were, but they are always with us."

Jessie was still trying to find out what she could about Edward's death and was sent the details of two of his comrades who had served in the same unit. She wrote to them and one wrote back. "I am glad to hear from you as I have been trying to find your address everywhere...Although I knew Ted I was not an intimate friend of his - I did not even work in his Platoon - and I am afraid I can give you no deatils concerning his death beyond what you already know. I am trying to locate his Platoon Office (sic), Mr Everton, to get a little more information from him. I will write again when I receive his reply."

Jessie and Mike got to Normandy for the Pilgrimage to the Bayeux Memorial that was organised by the British Legion in October 1955. Whilst there they got to visit his grave for the first time but, for some unknown reason, she didn't get to meet Mme Lemaitre.

Photos taken by Jessie when they went on the Pilgrimage to Normandy


Mike visited a number of times after that trip. He visited when his wife, Jean, was pregnant with James in 1976 (Ted’s first grandchild). They went again with Jessie in the 1980s, a couple times after that and also for the 50th anniversary. They finally went again for the 70th in 2014 when this photo of Mike and his wife on the beach was taken. That was the year he died sadly.

Edward’s grandson, James, and his wife, Jennifer, continue the tradition as they will be attending the 80th anniversary event in Normandy on 6th June 2024.

Mme Lemaitre sent this poem in one of her letters which we thought was a fitting way to finish Ted's story.

White Crosses on Meadows of Normandy
Murmur, a wind of East, your sweetest lament
And sing to all those dead whose voice is no more to be heard,
The sweet song that sing for them, formerly
Their mammas rocking them, asleep, in their arms.

And blow, wind of West, and cross the seas
Bring all these sons of great England,
Lying under the white crosses, asleep for ever,
The kiss a mother kept for their return.



    Army • SAPPER

    Royal Engineers
    72 Field Company

    DIED | 12 June 1944

    AGE | 24

    SERVICE NO. | 2013392



    Army • SAPPER

    Royal Engineers
    72 Field Company

    DIED | 12 June 1944

    AGE | 24

    SERVICE NO. | 2013392



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