Hero who captured German army's tallest soldier in WW2 dies aged 97

D-Day hero who captured the German army’s tallest soldier in World War Two has died aged 97

  • Corporal Roberts took the surrender of 7ft 6in Jakob Nacken in September 1944
  • Before that he was nearly killed several times during the Battle of Normandy 
  • He died in his sleep at Bournemouth Hospital on August 1 after a short illness

A D-Day hero who captured the tallest soldier in the German army during the Second World War has died at 97.

Corporal Bob Roberts, who stood at 5ft 3in, took the surrender of 7ft 6in Jakob Nacken in September 1944.

Before that he had been the second man to set foot on Juno Beach and was nearly killed several times during the Battle of Normandy.

Corporal Roberts and a colleague located a cliff-side enemy machine gun attacking the beaches and took it out with a gun and flame-thrower.

Corporal Bob Roberts (left), who stood at 5ft 3in, took the surrender of 7ft 6in Jakob Nacken (rigtht) in September 1944

Corporal Bob Roberts had been the second man to set foot on Juno Beach and was nearly killed several times during the Battle of Normandy

He survived a sniper’s bullet grazing his head and killed a German who pulled a pistol on him as he was being captured.

Tragically, his younger brother Ernie was killed in action in July 1944 at the very spot where he had been relieved just 24 hours before.

He died in his sleep at Bournemouth Hospital in Dorset on August 1 after a short illness.

His wife, Vera, died in 2011 and he leaves their four children – Allen, Brian, Colin and Dot – ten grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Bournemouth War Memorial Homes where he lived has been flying the Union Flag at half mast in his honour.

His daughter Dot Savill said: ‘Although it was his bravery during the war that he was famous for, Bob was first and foremost a wonderful dad, grandad and great-grandad. 

‘He was so lucky to enjoy a long and happy marriage with Vera, who he called his English rose. He had a great sense of humour and a kind disposition. He was a very special person.’

His wife, Vera (pictured together), died in 2011 and he leaves their four children – Allen, Brian, Colin and Dot – ten grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Bob Roberts (centre) during a break in the battle of Normandy with the remaining comrades of his platoon in 1944

Mr Roberts was from St John, New Brunswick, Canada, and enlisted with the North Shore Regiment of the Canadian Army in 1942 before being sent to Britain for training. 

It was after his regiment took out a gun battery in Calais on September 26 that he was involved in one of the war’s most bizarre confrontations.

He was searching a row of prisoners when he came face to chest with Nacken, a giant circus performer who had toured Europe and the US.

Mr Roberts recalled: ‘My mates who were watching the rest of the men saw this giant of a guy approach me and I was aware they and the Germans were having a good laugh.’

He received the Legion D’Honneur from the French government in 2014. 

His funeral takes place at Bournemouth crematorium on Tuesday.

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