Normandy veterans determined to make one last visit to the D-day beaches - undeterred by age, ill health and French bureaucracy

Normandy Veterans. From the left are Gordon Collinson, Ken Cooke, Ken Smith,  Roy Rowbotham, Bert Barritt, George Meredith and Douglas Haw. Picture David Harrison. (5489669)

Normandy Veterans. From the left are Gordon Collinson, Ken Cooke, Ken Smith, Roy Rowbotham, Bert Barritt, George Meredith and Douglas Haw. Picture David Harrison. (5489669)

First published 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.

Comments (5)

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12:41pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Halifaxbomber says...

And after all these boys did for France, they should be made welcome with open arms.
And after all these boys did for France, they should be made welcome with open arms. Halifaxbomber
  • Score: 4

2:12pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Big Bad Wolf says...

Halifaxbomber wrote:
And after all these boys did for France, they should be made welcome with open arms.
I agree, you would imagine that they would be the guests of the French authorities.
[quote][p][bold]Halifaxbomber[/bold] wrote: And after all these boys did for France, they should be made welcome with open arms.[/p][/quote]I agree, you would imagine that they would be the guests of the French authorities. Big Bad Wolf
  • Score: 4

3:44pm Thu 17 Apr 14

ScaleyI says...

Good on you guys, hopefully it will bring back a few memories. I for one are extremely proud of what you did for us and the cannot imagine the terrors faced on those beaches. Brave men one and all.
Good on you guys, hopefully it will bring back a few memories. I for one are extremely proud of what you did for us and the cannot imagine the terrors faced on those beaches. Brave men one and all. ScaleyI
  • Score: 2

4:07pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Halifaxbomber says...

ScaleyI wrote:
Good on you guys, hopefully it will bring back a few memories. I for one are extremely proud of what you did for us and the cannot imagine the terrors faced on those beaches. Brave men one and all.
Well said
[quote][p][bold]ScaleyI[/bold] wrote: Good on you guys, hopefully it will bring back a few memories. I for one are extremely proud of what you did for us and the cannot imagine the terrors faced on those beaches. Brave men one and all.[/p][/quote]Well said Halifaxbomber
  • Score: 0

5:13pm Thu 17 Apr 14

again says...

Halifaxbomber wrote:
And after all these boys did for France, they should be made welcome with open arms.
I've no doubt they will be! The 8th May is a very special day in France and I have often wondered why in Britain it passes by unnoticed.
[quote][p][bold]Halifaxbomber[/bold] wrote: And after all these boys did for France, they should be made welcome with open arms.[/p][/quote]I've no doubt they will be! The 8th May is a very special day in France and I have often wondered why in Britain it passes by unnoticed. again
  • Score: 0

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