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Fleet Hargate charity campaigner Harold’s emotional visit to Normandy





A Fleet Hargate charity campaigner who has dedicated his life to supporting veterans made an emotional journey to Normandy.

Harold Payne, of the Anglia Motel Veterans, was joined by Graham Smith on his 31st visit to the cemeteries, memorials and battle sites to mark the anniversary of D-Day.

This was the first time that Harold had not travelled with a group but he still packed in plenty over the trip.

The Sunset Ceremony at Pegasus Bridge
The Sunset Ceremony at Pegasus Bridge

Graham said: “We may have been small in number but we visited as many battle sites, memorials and cemeteries as we could.

“On the second day we went to the Pegasus Bridge early in the day followed by the Merville Gun Battery Museum where the German guns were silenced just minutes before the first troops landed. It was then on to the huge Normandy American Cemetery and visitor Centre at Omaha Beach, along with thousands of other visitors enjoying a practice American flypast for the next day. then to the German war Cemetery at La Cambe where 23,300 German combatants rest.”

On June 6, they joined about 3,000 others at a Remembrance Service at the Ranville War Cemetery before placing flowers and memorabilia at a number of sites.

Harold Payne leaves a bouquet of flowers at the grave of a local soldier - Sgt L Segwick of the Lincolnshire Regiment, killed July 8 1944 - in Normandy
Harold Payne leaves a bouquet of flowers at the grave of a local soldier - Sgt L Segwick of the Lincolnshire Regiment, killed July 8 1944 - in Normandy

“It was an amazing experience,” said Graham.

“There were a dozen or so of WW2 veterans, two local bands and hundreds of school children.

“At the end of the day we went back to Pegasus Bridge to see a Sunset Ceremony by the Royal Navy before travelling home.”

One of the bands at Ranville War Cemetery
One of the bands at Ranville War Cemetery

Next year will be the 80th anniversary of D-Day which Harold anticipates will be the last time he visits to pay his respects.



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