Portsmouth will soon lose its living links to historic D-Day by Lesley Keating
I was watching D-Day veteran Ted Cordery on Good Morning Britain this week and was very moved by his story. He had joined up at 18 to serve on HMS Belfast, landing on Gold Beach on D-Day to witness atrocities like we cannot even imagine.
Aged 91, Ted is now about to embark on one, final journey back to the beaches of Normandy as part of the Royal British Legion’s 75th Anniversary of D-Day commemoration. They still have 100 places left for veterans who may like to make the historic journey and sail back to Normandy for one last time to pay their respects.
When the 50th Commemorations took place, I was lucky enough to accompany my late father, Ron, a veteran of the D-Day landings who fought at Sword Beach and also at Dunkirk and Arnhem. My Dad refused to wear his medals at the Drumhead Service on Southsea common, attended by The Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Diana as well as French and American heads of state such as Bill Clinton.
A very reserved man, he never liked to be ‘showy’ preferring others to take the credit instead. But he proudly marched, his head high and it was a moment I’ll never forget. Ten years later, I had the privilege to run Portsmouth City Council’s PR campaign for D-Day 60 and met many incredible veterans who had served. However, their number was dwindling even then.Now with D-Day 75 looming, the British Legion is asking if any former veterans would like to be involved in the crossing.
This will be the last veteran-attended D-Day commemoration before it passes from living memory into history and hearsay. So, if anyone reading this knows of any veterans who might find it cathartic and emotionally cleansing to pay their respects, please contact the Royal British Legion in order to reserve them a place. I am not glorifying war, far from it, but it moved me to tears to see Ted struggle with his emotions over his fallen comrades. Without their sacrifices, we wouldn’t have the freedom we take for granted today. Read more here