A D-Day veteran who spent the first three days of the invasion on Normandy's beaches is preparing to celebrate his 100th birthday surrounded by his loving family.  

Desmond Stanford, also known as Steve or Ginger and a former engineer from Walsingham, celebrates his landmark birthday on Saturday. 

Born in Walsingham, Mr Stanford attended school in the village.

At 14 he started an engineering apprenticeship. Over the next five years, he trained at Massey and Bridges in Fakenham. 

Eastern Daily Press: Desmond Stanford, from Walsingham, is a great-great grandadDesmond Stanford, from Walsingham, is a great-great grandad (Image: Sonya Duncan)

He enlisted in the RAF, where he aced all his exams before an untimely discovery stopped him from taking to the skies.

“The final test had me pressing coloured buttons when the light switched up - I couldn’t do it because I found out I was colour blind,” he said.

Despite this, a short trip down the hall saw him speaking to a naval officer.

Eastern Daily Press: Desmond Stanford's medals for his service in The NavyDesmond Stanford's medals for his service in The Navy (Image: Sonya Duncan)

“He told me they train engineers in three months, I couldn’t believe it,” Mr Stanford added.

“They told me, ‘you are a dream’.”

He spent the next five years in the Royal Navy, from 1941 to 1946 - where he became a Chief Petty Officer.  

Eastern Daily Press: D-Day veteran, Desmond 'Steve' Stanford of Walsingham, an engineer on one of the landing craft, who is preparing to return to Normandy for the first time in 50 years. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

During that time he was part of the landings on Normandy.

He said: “I was on that beach the first three days and nights of the assault - and the worst thing was when the tide went out, I still have nightmares about it to this day.”

He left the Royal Navy and married Peggy.

His mother said she was up for going to the pictures with him - the pair biked to Wells, and the rest is history.

Eastern Daily Press: Desmond Stanford and his wife PeggyDesmond Stanford and his wife Peggy (Image: COURTESY MR STANFORD)

The couple had four children, and Mr Stanford continued as an engineer across Fakenham and in Nottinghamshire. 

In 1985 he moved back to Walsingham to look after his mother, Kate, who lived in the family home.

He retired at 58 after being made redundant, and the couple then spent their time filled with cruises and family time.

They were married for 61 years. Mr Stanford's wife died 15 years ago.

When asked how he felt about reaching 100, Mr Stanford said: “I think I’m too stubborn to die, and I like to think I’ve got another five [years] in me.” 

As a great-great-grandfather, 22 members of his family are heading to Norfolk this weekend to celebrate, with plans for a big party next May.