Leslie cyril tasker
25/04/1923 – 04/05/2020
Cyril Tasker, like many boys too young to join the forces, served in the Civil Defence Volunteers during the early years of the war. Cyril was born in Sussex in 1923 near the town of Lewes where he has lived all his life. The son of a farm worker, he left school at 14 years of age and worked as a petrol pump attendant at a garage where he also learnt to drive.
When Cyril enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps in 1942 he already had two years experience as a lorry driver. After basic training on Salisbury Plain and at Carlisle, Cyril was sent to Belfast in Northern Ireland. His company transported rations to the various units in the area. In August 1943 Cyril, along with a colleague from the company, returned to Salisbury Plain to join 716 company, a glider borne unit attached to the 6th Airborne Division. The unit spent many weeks training on how to load and unload the jeeps and trailers from the gliders. This equipment would be needed to transport the supplies, food, ammunition and fuel to the front line troops. Finally on the evening of June 6th Cyril took off in a Horsa Glider bound for Normandy. The company landed at Ranville in the midst of a battle. “We quickly dug in around the landing zone, it was very frightening”. 716 Company was attached to the 9th Parachute Battalion and set up its supply depot on the banks of the River Orne. During the entire Battle of Normandy 716 Company continued the hard and dangerous work of keeping the various front line units supplied. His talents as a farm worker were constantly in demand. “The cows hadn’t been milked for days and were suffering, I went out into the fields and milked them, relieving the cows and providing my comrades with fresh milk!” His unit returned to England in September 1944. Cyril was once again in action in the Ardennes in the winter of 1944, one of the coldest in modern history. In March 1945 the division flew across the Rhine into Germany as part of Operation Varsity. After the lessons at Arnhem in September 1944, the decision was taken to land the division directly on the target which was heavily defended by German anti aircraft batteries. Despite heavy losses Cyril survived and continued with the division to Wismar on the Baltic Coast. On being demobilised in 1947 and now married to his war time sweetheart Jeanne, Cyril returned as a driver to the transport company he worked for before the war. After a few years he returned to his roots and worked as a cowman. Cyril finally retired at 64 working as a clerk for Sussex County Council. In 1955, Cyril come back in Normandy for the first since 1944. For many years Cyril found it hard to talk about his wartime experiences but since retirement he attends, every year, the D-Day commemorations often accompanying the 9th Battalion Association, the unit he helped to replenish in 1944. Cyril Tasker was well known in his home town of Lewes. He takes pride of place next to the Mayor and dignitaries during the annual armistice commemorations, which is only fitting for a man who has given so much to the service of his country.