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VE Day 75 years on: Hampstead woman remembers mourning her father Theo Ionides, who died in France in 1944

PUBLISHED: 20:25 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 20:25 07 May 2020

Theo Ionides with his daughters in his naval uniform. He died shortly after D-Day. Picture: Ionides family

Theo Ionides with his daughters in his naval uniform. He died shortly after D-Day. Picture: Ionides family

Archant

“I was a little girl, 10 years old, when peace was declared. I wore my hair in bunches. I wanted to tie them with red, white and blue ribbon. But my mother said: ‘No!’

“We weren’t celebrating. My father was killed on D-Day plus four, and is buried in the War Cemetery at Bayeux.

“He had been in Naval Intelligence and was one of Ian Fleming’s commandos.

“He was one of the ones who didn’t come home. It was a quiet, sad day for us. I can remember that in the evening we went for a walk on Hampstead Heath, while the rest of the world was dancing.”

Anthea Ionides remembers VE Day differently to the popular myth of street parties and Union Flag bunting.

Looking back after three-quarters of a century, she told this newspaper: “A lot of my family was involved in the war. My father was in Naval Intelligence, his brother was MI6, there was a cousin too.

“When we think of VE Day, we think of the celebrations, everyone dancing. Mine was a sad day.”

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Anthea’s father Theo Ionides had been a Naval Intelligence commando under Ian Fleming – soon to become famous as author of the James Bond novels.

He died four days after being part of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, and Anthea recalls finding out the dreadful news.

“I remember coming back form school and seeing the telegram,” she said.

As a girl, because of her father’s service and her mother’s work as an architect, Anthea and her sister were not evacuated – instead they joined a small class of pupils at a “tiny dance school at the end of the road”.

Four days after D-Day, Anthea’s father was one of part of a crack team of commando officers to land on the beaches of Normandy with the intention of seizing ecords left behind by retreating German soldiers.

30 AU, as the commando unit was known, eventually succeeded in capturing the entire German naval archive – but not before coming under severe fire.

Anthea, who lives in Hampstead, said: “Four went over and landed on Omaha beach, and another four in the English sector. My father and the others went to bed in for the night.

“It was quarter past nine at night, and they were attacked from the air.”

Theo Ionides died of shrapnel injuries in the ensuing assault. It was June 1944.


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