GMB: Susanna Reid clashes with activist over Remembrance Day
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Harry, one of the UK’s last surviving D-Day heroes, has just returned from France where he paid tribute to his comrades who died on Gold Beach during the 1944 landings. He has spent years raising funds for a memorial to 22,442 service personnel who died under British command on D-Day and at the Battle of Normandy. And, despite describing the moving trip as his “last duty”, Harry was determined to keep up his good work.
It is his 68th consecutive year of campaigning for military charities. As well as collecting at least £50,000 for the construction of the British Normandy Memorial, he spent 64 years gathering donations for the Poppy Appeal.
Harry said he was “tired but happy” after his trip to see the monument that stands on a hill overlooking Gold Beach. He added: “I don’t think I could give you words about how I felt. It was very, very moving. And it still moves me now.”
Harry was just 18 and serving with the 59th Independent Squadron of the Royal Engineers when he took part in the first wave of D-Day landings. He said: “I’ve never been able to forget D-Day, it’s a really sad day. Has been all my life.”
The veteran was incredibly moved to see the names of his fallen friends carved into the stone memorial.
He said: “I found a couple of my mates’ graves there. A man called Leeds had a three-week-old baby at the time when he died. He died in my arms.”
Back home in St Austell, Cornwall, Harry is now collecting three days a week to raise money to help maintain the memorial and build an education centre.
He said: “The commandos – 24 Commando – gave me a cheque towards the monument for £4,000. Everyone has been lining up to put money in my tin.
“Everything I’ve done has been for the memorial and people all over the world now know me.
“I’m not a proud man – pride is a deadly sin – but I’m very happy that I was able to collect money and do my bit.”
The British Legion’s volunteers were also out in force yesterday following Harry’s sterling example as they raised funds for the Poppy Appeal.
In London, broadcaster and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage was doing his bit to help out.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that a giant image of a poppy will this year adorn one of the 114 metre tall cooling towers at the North Yorkshire Drax Power Station.
The projection will be visible between 6pm and 10pm, from Armistice Day, November 11 until Remembrance Sunday.
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