TRIBUTES have been paid to a war hero from York who took part in the D-Day landings, who has died aged 83.
Jack Harland was an active member of the York Normandy Veterans Association (NVA), regularly taking part in commemoration events.
Back in June 1944, he was only a teenager when he took part in the Normandy Landings. Mr Harland spent his birthday in the boat en route to France before taking part in the landings the next day, on June 6, 1944.
He was born John Henry Harland, on June 5, 1925, but was known to all who knew him as Jack. He came from a military family and served initially as a boy with the Scottish Borderers and then with the Royal Engineers.
After the Second World War, Jack married a German woman and came back to York to set up home. He continued as a British soldier, working in the Far East, and was decorated for the campaigns he fought and service he gave.
He spoke fluent German and French and when he travelled to Germany, France and The Netherlands, organising visits, the veterans were hailed as heroes and liberators by the local people they met, and honoured many times in civic receptions and formal ceremonies.
York Green Party councillor Dave Taylor, who lived next door to Jack, paid tribute today, describing him as an independently-minded career soldier, with a strong sense of right and wrong.
He said: “I feel proud to have known Jack. He’s contributed so much for his country, losing so many friends and yet he maintained a wicked and infectious sense of humour. He will be greatly missed.”
Dennis James Haydock, of the NVA, said: “He was one of our staunchest veterans. He was on our committee and was very enthusiastic in everything that took place.”
Mr Harland died on Thursday, only weeks after one of his closest friends and comrades also passed away.
Mr Harland, who has no surviving family in Britain, was particularly good friends with fellow veteran Geoff Lockwood, who passed away in July.
Mr Lockwood’s daughter, Angela Mould, said today: “They were really good friends.
“We had not thought he would be able to come to my dad’s funeral but he managed in his wheelchair. “They were really good pals.”
The pair had both planned to take part in a special 65th-anniversary trip to Normandy next June, expected to be the last major such event. Similar trips have previously been organised for the 50th and 60th anniversaries.