Normandy veterans determined to make one last visit to the D-day beaches - undeterred by age, ill health and French bureaucracy
11:33am Thursday 17th April 2014 in News
THIS ‘magnificent seven’ are determined to win their final battle and return to Normandy for the 70th anniversary of D-Day – undeterred by French bureaucracy, old age and fading health.
The dwindling band of Normandy veterans from the York area, all in their late 80s or early 90s, are planning to attend a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and a series of other ceremonies in early June.
But Ken Smith, secretary of the York branch of the Normandy Veterans Association, has revealed that he had to spend days filling in forms to ensure they can get through a security and congestion cordon being thrown up around the area by the French Government.
He said no one would be able to enter part of the regions of Calvados, Manche and Orne between June 4 and June 8 without an accreditation pass.
"I and my wife Gloria had to spend two days filling in individual forms for all 40 of the people who are coming on our coach to Normandy," he said. "If we didn't get the forms back by the deadline, no one would have been allowed through."
He was confident that veterans and their wives or carers, who were being given top priority by the French authorities, would now be able to attend the various events but he still had concerns for honorary members who would be travelling with the veterans to France.
Mr Smith, of Wheldrake, said that at 89, he was one of the youngest York veterans going on the trip and, with some suffering increasing mobility and health problems, he couldn't be certain all seven would make it to France, despite their determination to go.
"This is the last big commemoration planned for D-day, and the Normandy Veterans Association nationally will be wound up in the autumn, although we may keep this branch going in York."
He said the £18,000 cost of the trip had been met partly through collections held by the veterans in York, but with a big contribution also coming from the National Lottery.
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