YORK’S Normandy veterans have led a walk around the city centre to mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day.

Firm friends Ken Cooke, 89, Ken Smith, 90, George Edward Meredith, 90, and Burt Barritt, 90, were approached by wellwishers as they wore their medals and led an impromptu walk around York.

The men from the York Normandy Veterans Association organised the walk as no other services had been organised to mark the landmark anniversary.

Mr Barritt, from Acomb, who served as a corporal in the East Yorkshire Regiment, said he clearly remembers the moment the end of the war in Europe was announced.

“We were marching through a field near Bremen in Germany and we sat on the grass and we heard the broadcast with Winston Churchill. We sat there wondering and thankful. You didn’t get to sit in a field very often as you would be shot. That day there was no shooting, we were just able to slouch in the field.”

Ken Smith, who served as a private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, said he felt it was important the anniversary was marked to remember those who gave their lives. He said: “We’re lucky we’re still here. Most of our comrades are lying in cemeteries.”

The men, who were all teenagers when they were involved in the Normandy Landings, last year returned to France to mark the anniversary of D-Day.

They were joined on their walk by Elsie Johnson, whose late husband was a veteran, and Bill Ronshorn, a Canadian veteran of the Korean War.

Among the North Yorkshire care homes to mark the anniversary was Garth Court in Huntington where Brenda Mackfall led a musical afternoon.

A beacon was lit in York to mark the VE Day anniversary last night at Triangular Gardens, Leeman Road, between Memorial Gardens and the Royal York Hotel. It was one of 200 across the country, following the lighting of the principal beacon outside Windsor Castle by the Queen.