Normandy Veteran and Author Passes Away
BRITAIN AT War reports with sadness the death of British Second World War veteran and author David Render, aged 92. Render, who recently worked with Stuart Tootal to publish his account of the campaign in North West Europe, landed in Normandy on D-Day +5 as a Second Lieutenant in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry. On 8 June 1944, fresh from training, then just 19 years of age and untested in battle, David found himself on a ship steaming out of Portsmouth, the destination was simply ‘France’ and both he and his men were unaware the invasion had already happened. Still, even the uncontested landing was dangerous, two men lost before they even hit the beach, their tank swamped.
Render battled both for the respect of his ha rd-nosed and experienced veteran crew, keen not to be led to their demise by a ‘green’ officer, and for his own survival. To this end, he succeeded in both, though he lost many friends and comrades, including his driver, along the way.
On one occasion, Render fixed his helmet to the machine gun mount to the rear of his turret hatch, in a bid to dupe snipers. British tankers preferred to remain exposed – for greatly enhanced visibility, but the trade-off was deadly, commanders (and drivers) frequently sustaining head injuries from rifle or mortar fire. It worked, as in a battle where several other tank commanders were killed or wounded, David remained unscathed, while his helmet was hit twice.
In another engagement, Render captured one of the first Panzerfausts - a hand-held antitank rocket - to be secured by the British. The weapon was the greatest threat faced by a British tanker, the disposable device issued in its tensof- thousands, meant any infantryman, concealed within 50 yards of an Allied tank had an opportunity to destroy it. It is no surprise that throughout the Normandy campaign the average life expectancy of a new tank troop officer was less than two weeks.
From the tough battles following Normandy, to bloody fighting in the city of Bremen, where he participated’ in ferocious fighting in which 90% of his fellow tank commanders became casualties, Render emerged unscathed from these numerous deadly engagements, earning him his nickname, the ‘Inevitable Mr Render’.