Fundraising veteran makes final pilgrimage to Normandy

A veteran has made his final pilgrimage to Normandy to see how thousands of pounds he raised is helping the construction of a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades.

Harry Billinge, 93, travelled from his home in St Austell, Cornwall, to take part in the commemorations on Thursday in France.

He has handed more than £10,000 to the Normandy Memorial Trust by relentlessly collecting donations in his local high street and the French town of Arromanches.

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As an 18-year-old Royal Engineer, he landed on Gold Beach at 6.30am on June 6 1944 as part of the first wave of troops.

He wants to see a national memorial erected in Normandy to remember all those who served in the British forces in the conflict.

The first foundation stones were laid in a service attended by Theresa May on Thursday and a monument was unveiled.

Mr Billinge said this was his “swansong” and he did not think he would return again, but he would continue fundraising until the memorial was completed.

He then attended a remembrance service in Arromanches.

Speaking to the Press Association afterwards, he said he was over the moon to be able to see the inauguration of the memorial.

He said: “When I finally saw the monument I was very emotional.

“It’s taken us 75 years to get to this point.

“It’s been wonderful seeing it and taking part in the service in Arromanches too. I’m glad I could be here.

“I will continue fundraising.”