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90-Year-Old WWII Veteran's Song About Normandy Beats Out Popular Artists on Amazon Music Charts

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In 2019, it’s hard to imagine that a historical ballad might be more popular than a pop song by Justin Bieber or Ed Sheeran. However, one 90-year-old’s heart-wrenching account of D-Day just topped Amazon’s singles chart.

The successful artist is Jim Radford, World War II veteran and the youngest known survivor of D-Day. Radford first wrote “The Shores of Normandy” in 1969 for the 25th anniversary of D-Day, but just recently released a new edition for the 75th anniversary.

The song was “a powerful recollection,” Radford said in a statement on the Normandy Memorial Trust website.

In the ballad, Radford invites listeners to visit the morning of June 6, 1944. At merely 15 years old, Radford was a galley boy with the Merchant Navy. On D-Day, he had a hand in constructing Mulberry Harbor on Gold Beach, which played a key role in transporting supplies and vehicles.

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Most boys weren’t permitted to join the British Navy until age 16. However, the rule didn’t apply to his position as a tugboat sailor, making him one of the youngest boys to serve the Navy on D-Day. Once he joined, he had no idea what was immediately in store for him.

“They gave me a job straight away, but I didn’t know when I went that my first trip was going to be the invasion of Europe,” Radford told ABC. “As my song says, ‘In the cold gray lights of the sixth of June, we set sail for Normandy.'”

Radford was inspired to compose the song when he returned to the infamous beach years after D-Day. The image he saw there was such a stark contrast to the scene he had witnessed in 1944 that he felt compelled to write about it.

“It wasn’t until I went back, saw the children playing on the beach, that I was sort of overwhelmed with recollection of what I’ve seen and moved to tears by the contrast, as a lot of veterans were,” Radford said in his statement for the Normandy Memorial Trust.

The harrowing violence on D-Day has remained with Radford for 75 years. Listen as he recalls the events of what became a turning point of World War II:

Proceeds earned from downloads of “The Shores of Normandy” will be donated to the Normandy Memorial Trust. The funds will be used to support the British Normandy Memorial, which was inaugurated in Normandy on June 6, 2019.

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“It’s very important to me and other veterans that there should be a place like this where people can come and reflect because we’re not going to be around for much longer to tell the story, and the story needs to be told because people need to learn lessons from it,” Radford said, according to KDVR.

The veteran was as shocked as everyone else to see his song rise in popularity.

“I’m obviously delighted and extremely surprised to be No. 1 on this particular chart, and I hope it does well because the more copies are downloaded, the more money we’ll have to pay for this wonderful memorial we’re building here,” Radford said.

“The song is really to honor and remember all those brave lads who didn’t come back,” Radford told ABC.

You can support the building of the British Normandy Memorial by downloading “The Shores of Normandy” on iTunes, Amazon and other music streaming sites.

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Noel Marquis is a journalist and animal-lover hailing from the Midwest. After an internship with Disney following her college graduation, she pursued a career writing content that makes readers smile. Coffee, books and superhero movies are some of her favorite things.