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Home » D-Day: Hampstead Woman Anthea Goldsmith Pays Tribute To Father On BBC

D-Day: Hampstead Woman Anthea Goldsmith Pays Tribute To Father On BBC

A great-grandmother sat beside her father’s grave and recalled the heartbreaking moment she found out he had died as part of a BBC programme commemorating D-Day.

Anthea Goldsmith, nee Ionides, was at Bayeux Cemetery, in Normandy, on June 5, to pay tribute to her father Lieutenant Theodore Ionides.

Theo, an expert in detonating mines, had been a naval intelligence commando under Ian Fleming – who later became famous as author of the James Bond novels.

MOST READ: ‘High-end’ Japanese gift retailer opens first shop in north London He died four days after being part of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, when Anthea was just nine years old.

The now 89-year-old Anthea, who lives in Hampstead, went to Normandy with the BBC, as part of their Tribute to the Fallen coverage on BBC One.

Screenshot of Anthea Goldsmith, née Ionides, who appeared on the BBC’s Tribute to the Fallen to talk about her father Lt Theodore Ionides who died four days after D-Day 80 years ago (Credit: BBC)

Her life changed forever on June 13, when the “the weather was still bad” and she knew D-Day had happened from the newspapers.

Reading from beside her father’s grave during the programme, she recalled: “I came back from school and saw the telegram on the shelf by the front door.

“My mother came home from work and I ran downstairs to greet her.

Anthea (left) and sister Penelope with their father Lt Theo Ionides on his last leave at Hampton Court before his death in Normandy in June 1944 (Image: Ionides family)

“She opened the telegram, she put her hand up to her throat and she said ‘oh he’s gone, I never expected this’.

“She went into the sitting room, I knelt down on the floor beside her and said ‘Daddy’s dead, Daddy’s dead, Daddy’s dead’.

“I tried to believe it, I couldn’t. I always thought that when the war was over and we had peace, he’d come back to us, but of course he never did.”

She told BBC presenter Kirsty Young that her father had landed at Omaha Beach in the American quarter of Normandy with a colleague, and they had to climb a cliff with a rope and a collapsible bicycle on their backs.

They were heading for Cherbourg, and her father was killed near St Mere Eglise four days after D-Day.

Screenshot of Andrea Goldsmith sat beside her father Theo Iodines’ grave in Bayeux Cemetery on the eve of the 80th anniversary of D-Day (Image: BBC/Nathalie Raffray)

“He was a life enhancer, he gave off a lot of jollity, when he came everything picked up and he was very affectionate,” she told Young, who was anchoring

the programme.

She said to the presenter she met her father’s death with “disbelief”.

“I just didn’t believe it, I thought they’ve got the wrong man. I thought he’d fallen in love with a French woman and made an excuse not to come back.”

She added: “People say ‘oh you’ll get over it, time heals things’ and they give you all these sort of comforting remarks and I didn’t experience that at all because the longer I’d lost him, in a way the worse it became, because he wasn’t there to give me away when I got married, he wasn’t there to be a grandfather to the children.

“The loss doesn’t go away.”

D-Day 80: Tribute to the Fallen is available on BBC iPlayer, and features the light displays, readings and music from Portsmouth as well as Bayeux.