Other Notable Deaths

OTHER NOTABLE DEATHS

April 21, 2009

ELISHA RAY NANCE, 94

Last surviving D-Day 'Bedford Boy'

When World War II broke out, the "Bedford Boys" left home to serve. Many of them didn't come home - so many that the community had among the greatest losses per capita on D-Day.

Now the last survivor has died.

Elisha Ray Nance died Sunday in Bedford, Va., a spokesman for Tharp Funeral Home and Crematory said Monday.

Mr. Nance was among 38 National Guardsmen from the close-knit community of Bedford who were in Company A of the 116th Infantry, a spokeswoman at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation said. On June 6, 1944, 19 were killed when they landed on Omaha Beach at the start of the D-Day invasion. Two more died later.

The great loss from a town of 3,200 and its surrounding area led to Bedford's selection as the site of the National D-Day Memorial.

Mr. Nance went home when he left the Army in 1944 and became a postal carrier, said Shannon Brooks, a spokeswoman for the D-Day foundation.

To honor his fallen brethren, Mr. Nance reorganized Company A of the Virginia National Guard in Bedford and was its first commander after World War II.

J.G. BALLARD, 78

Author of 'Empire of the Sun'

J.G. Ballard, best-known for the autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun, which drew on his childhood detention in a Japanese prison camp in China, died Sunday in London.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2006 and had been ill "for several years," said his agent, Margaret Hanbury. She did not give the cause of death.

Mr. Ballard was born in Shanghai, China, and was interned there in a prison camp by Japanese troops in 1941 - an experience he drew on in his 1984 novel Empire of the Sun, later adapted as a film by director Steven Spielberg.

The writer moved to Britain in 1946, where he lived until his death.

Mr. Ballard was sometimes controversial. His 1973 novel Crash, which explored contentious themes about people who derive pleasure from car accidents, was made into a film by director David Cronenberg in 1996.

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