North East veterans remember comrades on 70th anniversary of D-Day

D-Day veterans from the North East have joined commemorations of the event on both sides of the English Channel

Cpl Neil Bryden RAF/MoD Crown A Spitfire and a Typhoon flying together over Pegasus Bridge near Caen, France, as hundreds of British D-Day veterans gathered
A Spitfire and a Typhoon flying together over Pegasus Bridge near Caen, France, as hundreds of British D-Day veterans gathered

D-Day veterans from the North East have joined commemorations of the event on both sides of the English Channel.

The 70th anniversary of the event has been marked by services in Normandy and in Portsmouth, with many veterans making the trip to France saying it will probably be their last chance to honour fallen comrades.

A number of veterans from the region have travelled to Normandy with the help of the Royal British Legion.

Matthew Guymer, 90, who is originally from Newcastle but now lives in Staffordshire, yesterday attended the commemoration service led by the Princess Royal at Portsmouth.

Mr Guymer, who served as a major with the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert’s Own), said: “I feel honoured and delighted and grateful to the people of Portsmouth for being so kind to us all. I think it’s the last time I will be able to come down at my age. I am a very proud man and I am delighted to have the opportunity to meet the other veterans.”

World War Two - Second World War - The D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. British troops about to pass through a village after the landings. Circa: June 1944
World War Two - Second World War - The D-Day invasion of Normandy, France. British troops about to pass through a village after the landings. Circa: June 1944
 

South Tyneside mayor Fay Cunningham, who is also secretary of the Jarrow Veterans Association, will be in Normandy today to honour those who fell in the battle.

She said: “It is particularly important on this, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, that we take time out to remember the sacrifices made and heroism shown by these people.

“The Normandy veterans were at the forefront of the fight for freedom and, as such, deserve our respect and admiration.”

Though the national Normandy Veterans’ Association is disbanded this year, the Jarrow branch has decided to carry on as long as its members want to meet.

World War Two - Second World War - The D-Day invasion of Normandy. France. Endless streams of American troops move up the beaches. Circa: June 1944
World War Two - Second World War - The D-Day invasion of Normandy. France. Endless streams of American troops move up the beaches. Circa: June 1944
 

Branch chairman Bob Douglas, who is also in Normandy, said: “Our members wanted to keep our branch going. It’s important to never let the world forget the events of the Second World War.

“Our members also draw comfort and support from one another and that’s another reason we wanted to keep our branch running.”

There are currently six veterans in the Jarrow Veterans Association and around 30 honorary members who are family and friends of the veterans.

To mark the D-Day anniversary, the North of England Horticultural Society has launched grants to help communities across the region improve their war memorials. Grants of up to £500 are available to improve or restore memorials, cenotaphs and remembrance gardens.

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