When our D-Day veteran met Prince William

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The final remaining D-Day veteran from South Holland has returned home from a trip to Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Tony Blackman visited Normandy, along with 42 people, including five other war veterans and his wife, Rita, and Harold Payne from the Anglia Motel in Fleet Hargate, as part of the Anglia Motel Veterans’ 21st, and final, annual trip to the battlefields and cemeteries.

Harold said: “We did the country very proud while we were over there.”
During the trip the group laid wreaths, each made of 500 carnations and weighing around five stone, at the resting places of the soldiers, who lost their lives during their time in Normandy.

Tony, who will be celebrating his 90th birthday in December, said: “I wasn’t very well when we got over there, but I did get to go to Ranville cemetery and I managed to lay a cross for my comrades who are there, which I found very moving.

“My wife and I met Price William on the Friday and he was so down to earth and like one of us.
He asked me where I landed and how I was getting on, and then shook my wife’s hand and spoke to her for a while too.
I remember quite vividly that he asked me if I think the youth of today will remember what we did and if they will pay their respects to us, and I said that I sincerely hope they do.”

A poppy drop, organised by Harold Payne and sponsored by developer Ashley King, will go ahead this weekend in Hunstanton, when 50,000poppies will fall over the beach as a tribute to those who died during the D-Day landings.

Mr Blackman said: “I must say that the military organised and arranged the event really well.

“I feel now like I have paid my respects.”