Six Normandy veterans’ final return to battle sites

Normandy veterans Philip Milton and Eric Toynton with one of the six wreaths being laid in French cemeteries. Photo (NIKKI GRIFFIN): SG310512-127NG
Normandy veterans Philip Milton and Eric Toynton with one of the six wreaths being laid in French cemeteries. Photo (NIKKI GRIFFIN): SG310512-127NG

A PARTY of 20 people from South Holland, including six veterans, were in France for the 68th ceremony commemorating the D-Day landings.

For the six Normandy veterans it was the final return, the last time they will re-visit the fields to remember fallen comrades, and it was an emotional visit for them all.

Harold Payne, who has raised £500,000 over the years he has run the Anglia Motel Cafe Pilgrimage Fund to allow veterans to make the annual pilgrimage, said: “At least 50 veterans have gone since I started 20 years ago. It is sad.

“People don’t realise we lost them in 1914-1918 and now we are losing the 1939-1945 boys.”

The party took six wreaths, each one made of about 500 carnations, in order to pay tribute to the soldiers of different countries who died, as well as a wreath for the Queen.

The group visited various war cemeteries, including Ranville, where a service of remembrance was due to be held on Wednesday, and laid bunches of roses on a row of graves of members of the Lincolns who were all killed on the same day.

They also visited beaches that hold memories for the men and looked at Mulberry harbour, the five-mile long man-made harbour created so that British troops could go ashore on D-Day, made with concrete blocks, each one weighing as much as the Eiffel Tower.