Sunday 25 May 2014

A day with some Veterans

Yesterday I was privileged to be able to help out at a special D-Day Veterans event being held in Basildon. The Normandy Veterans Association were collecting money to help send some of their members to Normandy for the 70th Anniversary commemorations taking place in Northern France next month. My Brother-in-Law Raymond was also there selling his new book with money from the sales also going to the NVA fund raising collection. Several of the veterans featured in the book were at the event and despite their advancing years (all are in their 90's) they were as sprightly and energetic as ever.

The event was held inside the Basildon EastGate Shopping Centre and was ideally placed to attract lots of visitors. There was a lot of activity around the stand all morning and Ray sold out of his book by lunchtime. It was a huge honour and privilege to spend the morning with the veterans, all of which were only too eager to tell their stories.

Ray spent the entire morning signing his book and talking to visitors. 
All the Veterans were more than happy to sign books and chat about their experiences.
Ray with W Whiteman who was at Arnhem and Don Sheppard who landed at Juno Beach. Don's unit were reinforcements for the troops holding Pegasus bridge. 
W. Whiteman had already served in Egypt, took part in the landings in Sicily and in Italy before his unit, the 181st Air Landing Field Ambulance (1st Airborne Div), went to Arnhem. He's a very modest man and when asked how he found the courage to do it he just shrugged his shoulders and said "it just had to be done"
The stall was busy all day and was ideally placed to attract passing shoppers, many of which bought Rays book and chatted with the veterans. 
Ray still signing copies of his book.
Walter 'Nobby' Clark shows off a picture of himself at 18, just a year or so before he took part in Operation Overlord. His ship HMS Halsted was supporting the landing but just three days later was torpedoed. Nobby was badly injured and was picked up by the crew of HMS Fernie.   
I'm not sure how much was raised but I would be surprised if it didn't add up to several hundred pounds at least... the public were putting ten and twenty pound notes in the collection buckets and Ray sold over 50 books with money going to the collection as well. All in all a very good day and a great honour for me to be able to help in a small way.

UPDATE 3-Jun-2014
I've just recieved some feedback on the results of our days activity. The Vaterans collected over £700 from the public and recieved an additional £200 from Ray from sales of his book. This money will go a long way towards paying the costs of those Veterans able to make the trip to Normandy this week. 


  1. Bravo! Similar events and funds are being set up on this side of the pond as well. The American Legion and VFW are striving to make sure the vets can return to Normandy Beach.

  2. I am so sorry I missed this.....very humbling and I am very proud of my cousin Ray.

  3. That's really a great cause to be supported.

  4. I hope they have a great trip!

  5. Inspirational, glad it went so well



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