D-DAY 75: South Holland veterans and youngsters take part in France WW2 commemorations
World War II veterans from South Holland and some of the future generations they fought for joined as one to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
A six-day pilgrimage to lay thousands of red roses on war graves in France was how a party representing the Anglia Pilgrimage Fund, based in Fleet, chose to remember one of the War’s most decisive operations.
Four veterans from South Holland - Sid Barnes, Jack Burton, Ernie Covill and John Summerson - were the VIP guests of Harold Payne, owner of Fleet’s Anglia Motel, on the pilgrimage which was also made by 50 young people from Lincolnshire.
Mr Payne, who set up the Fund 30 years ago to allow veterans to remember fallen colleagues who were part of Operation Neptune, the military name for the D-Day Landings on June 6, 1944, said: “It was absolutely fantastic.
“I stood in one of the French war cemeteries, looking over the graves, and every one had a red rose in front of it.
“It was very upsetting to look at the graves of 16, 17 and 18-year-olds who made the sacrifices they made.
“That’s what I think every time I come here.”
The last-ever Anglia Pilgrimage Fund also brought members of 2430 (Holbeach) Squadron Air Training Corps and students from Spalding Grammar School to Normandy.
Chris Carter, president of Spalding Royal British Legion Branch and who also went to Normandy this week, said: “It was amazing and very thought-provoking to see the ages of those in many of the graves here.
“These people laid down their lives for us and it makes you feel very humbled and very grateful to them for the bravery they showed.”