THE STORY of a Pembrokeshire man who died in battle following D-Day has been remembered by his niece on the 75th anniversary of the landings.

Frederick James Jones, born at Neyland Vale, was 19 when he died on June 9, 1944, during a battle near Chateau de Sully.

According to his niece Shirley Thomas, who lives in Welsh Hook, a newspaper clipping from the end of the war carried the claim a commanding officer had tried to save her Uncle Freddie.

Milford Mercury: Frederick James Jones, who died after the D-Day landings.Frederick James Jones, who died after the D-Day landings.

But watching a television programme in 2009 on the Festival of Remembrance led her to discover the truth behind what happened to her uncle.

“A veteran called Bill Evans was out at a cemetery and he mentioned the name 36-Jones. With so many Joneses, Davieses, Evanses, the commanding officers told them to call each other by the last two numbers of their serial number plus their surname,” said Shirley.

“When he said 36-Jones, I just had to check – it was my Uncle Freddie.”

Shirley, who is a keen family history researcher, left her contact details with the BBC and Bill soon called to speak about her uncle and their time together in the war.

The two were the best of friends, and were part of B-company, second battalion, of the South Wales Borderers, the only Welsh regiment to take part in the D-Day landings.

Milford Mercury: Bill Evans, who told the story of how he knew 36-Jones to Shirley Thomas.Bill Evans, who told the story of how he knew 36-Jones to Shirley Thomas.

Bill told Shirley the pair had swum to shore with their gear on their backs while dodging German bullets, as the American landing craft they had travelled on had set them off in deep water.

They had been part of efforts to take the Vaux-sur-Aure bridge, and the Bayeux radio station, and were in a battle with Nazi soldiers near Chateau de Sully on June 9, when Freddie was injured.

“Bill said one bomb killed about 18 soldiers: they were ripped to shreds by shrapnel from the trees,” said Shirley.

“Uncle Freddie was screaming and his left cheek was hanging down. The wood had burst an artery. All the boys were only issued with one field dressing. Bill used his to put it around Uncle Freddie’s head,” she added.

Bill was told to leave Freddie for the stretcher bearers by his sergeant, and if he had disobeyed could have been severely punished.

He only discovered 36-Jones’ grave in 2006, when visiting the Ryes War Cemetery, Bazenville, with a French friend while in Normandy for that year’s remembrance ceremony.

Every year after finding it, Bill would visit Freddie’s grave and sing O Valiant Hearts, and the Welsh national anthem.

Shirley became close with Bill and his wife Pat, and has fond memories of a visit to their home in Snowdonia in 2010.

Milford Mercury: Bill Evans with Shirley Thomas.Bill Evans with Shirley Thomas.

“When we were leaving, he came up to me, he held my hands and looked into my eyes. The tears were coming down his cheeks and he said ‘Please, tell your family I did my best’.

“We have to remember these men and what they went through,” said Shirley.

Since discovering the story of her uncle, Shirley has been in touch with battlefield tour guide Tom Sellen, who moved from Pembrokeshire to work in Normandy three years ago.

Milford Mercury: The Welsh flag and the Pembrokeshire flag at the grave of Frederick James Jones.The Welsh flag and the Pembrokeshire flag at the grave of Frederick James Jones.

Tom has been to Freddie’s grave every year to place a Welsh flag there, and in the last year also placed the flag of Pembrokeshire alongside it.

Bill Evans died in August 2014, and tributes were paid to him at home the UK and in Asnelles, Normandy, where he would stay while he visited France.