WWII veterans shine at D-day commemorations in France

Around 180 veterans in their late 90s or even over 100 were guests of honour at D-Day commemorations in France on Thursday, many attending in wheelchairs for possibly the last time.

At British, US and Canadian ceremonies, they recounted their memories of the Allied landings on June 6, 1944, that would help expel German forces from France and end World War II.

British former combatant Joe Mines, 99, said he had returned to the Normandy seaside town of Ver-sur-Mer for the first time in 80 years because it was likely his "last and only opportunity".

"I wanted to pay my respects," Mines said in comments read out by an actor during the British ceremony.

Mines, who sat nearby waving at the crowd from his wheelchair, said he was just a "boy" when he was tasked with clearing mines from the nearby beach.

"War is brutal," he said.

He recounted meeting another young soldier on the train before D-Day.

"I went to Normandy with him, but he got killed within an hour of getting there," he said.

A second veteran, Ron Hendry, described through an actor approaching the shore at daybreak to see "ships as far as the eye can see" and skies "black with aircraft".

Hendry said he and others were "terrified".

"We were all thinking the same thing: Is this my last day on earth?"

'Can I borrow your hair?'

Eight decades later, world leaders hailed their courage.

"The greatest generation ever," he told another.

'Not today'

(AFP)


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