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Veterans remember their fallen comrades-in-arms

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FOR infantryman Edward Roberts, returning to Normandy last week for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings was of particular significance as he was presented by the French government with the Legion d'honneur.

Mr Roberts, who lives in Bromley and celebrated his 89th birthday on June 5 is one of the last surviving members of the Croydon branch of the Normandy Veterans Association. He was accompanied on last week's visit by sons David, who flew in from Australia, and Stephen.

Mr Roberts served with the 15th Scottish Division and landed in Normandy on the day after his 19th birthday.

He was involved in the famous battle for Hill 112 outside Caen and was later wounded – the bullet just missing his heart – and hospitalised in Bayeux before returning to the UK.

This year he and his sons went to the commemoration services in Bayeux, attended by the Queen, and the veterans' service at Arromanches, attended by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Mr Roberts has been making the trip to Normandy with Stephen for the past 10 years and always includes a trip to the 15th Scottish Division memorial near Caen.

Stephen said: "We hold our own small family service there and my father reads the salutation. It was a particularly poignant occasion for him this year and was very moving for all of us.

"I think the whole trip was very special for him and many other veterans as it may be last time they will be able to go to a major commemoration."

Veterans of airborne landings also made the trip to Normandy for the anniversary, including Johnny Johnson, who in 1944 landed by glider, and Parachute Regiment member Frank Prendergast.

The visit was organised by Croydon branch of the Parachute Regimental Association. President Colonel John Power said: "The 70th was recognised as the last big commemoration where we are likely to have significant numbers of Normandy veterans.

"It was a touching and poignant experience to walk along the gravestones at Herouvillette with Johnny, who remembered his individual comrades and how they died."

The visit also included attending the unveiling, in Ranville, of a bust to Major Jack Watson, a Normandy veteran of 13 Para, by the Prince of Wales.

Col Power also attended the unveiling of a memorial at Merville Gun Battery which was captured at great cost by a small group from the 9th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment.

Col Power has played a significant role in getting the memorial erected just a year after it was discovered there were still British and German dead on the Merville site.

Veterans remember their fallen comrades-in-arms


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