Veterans enjoy D-Day party at military care home

A 98-year-old D-Day veteran was the guest of honour at a military care home party in Renfrewshire to mark the 80th anniversary of the event.

Albert Lamond joined dozens of veterans in a 1940s-themed party at the Erskine Home, run by Erskine Veterans Charity, in Bishopton.

Mr Lamond was 18 when he served in the Navy on the HMS Rowley during Operation Overlord in France on June 6, 1944.

The crew were aware their ship would manoeuvre into the line of fire if a torpedo was fired, as she circled a larger battleship, HMS Warspite, which was shelling the Nazis.

Mr Lamond, who is widowed and has no children, is the sole remaining D-Day veteran to live at the home.

His nephew, Colin Lamond, 52, attended the celebrations and said his uncle was from a “modest generation”, and for decades never mentioned his participation in the Normandy landings.

Mr Lamond said his uncle only started talking about D-Day in his 60s and properly opened up about his wartime experiences into his 80s after the death of his wife, Margaret.

Residents of the home along with relatives attended a tea party with a 16-piece swing band performing Glen Miller songs while staff dressed up in 1940s-era outfits and danced with some of the veterans, with dozens attending along with their families.

Children’s entertainer Glen Michael, 98, who performed for troops during the Second World War and also served in the RAF, also attended the event, which has been in planning since October.

Mr Lamond, 52, said: “There’s only around 100 D-Day veterans in the UK.

“Albert was only 17 when he started service in 1942, he must have been one of the youngest servicemen. We didn’t know until he was much older that he was involved in D-Day.

“I couldn’t speak for Albert but maybe he got more reflective as he got older.

“That generation didn’t view their wartime experiences and the danger as particularly exceptional – it’s a modest generation.

“Theirs is a unique generation, they had to risk their lives on a daily basis. They were aware that if they had to protect something with more importance, they were a human shield. I think the ships Albert was on didn’t have heavy artillery.”

Albert Lamond, 98, enjoys the D-Day party where he was a guest of honour
Albert Lamond, 98, enjoys the D-Day party where he was a guest of honour (James Williamson/PA Wire)

Mr Lamond said that his uncle’s memory was very sharp despite his age and that he had attended the Cenotaph commemorations in previous years.

He added: “I can’t remember him talking about it until he was in his 60s.

“He seemed to really open up about it after Margaret passed away, he was never too demonstrative about it when she was alive.

“It wasn’t until he was in his 80s that he really started talking about it.

“He can remember the day of the month he enlisted, he can remember his ID number.

“I think the focus of the party is on Albert. It’s a celebration of his service on the day. I’m happy to be part of it and to be invited.”

The Erskine charity was set up in 1916 as a surgical hospital for sailors and soldiers who had lost limbs and created the first articulated prosthetic limb.

Chief executive Ian Cumming said the charity depends on £10 million in donations a year to provide services which are beyond what a typical care home would offer.

Ian Cumming (left) chief executive of Erskine Veterans Charity, with Albert Lamond, 98, a D-Day veteran
Ian Cumming (left) chief executive of Erskine Veterans Charity, with Albert Lamond, 98, a D-Day veteran (James Williamson/PA Wire)

Mr Cumming, who served in the RAF for 27 years, said: “Albert is a guest of honour at the D-Day celebrations but they are for all the residents, many served in World War II.

“They may have been flying an aircraft or fighting in Africa, one gentleman was in the Arctic Convoys. We have cared for many D-Day veterans but Albert is the last remaining veteran.

“Because so many of them were involved in different ways, they all understand the sacrifice and heroism that was shown. Technology was deployed which was built on the Clyde.”

Mr Lamond said earlier this week the thousands of lives lost during the landings must never be forgotten.

He said: “As one of the last few living witnesses of D-Day, I often find myself wondering about those I served alongside.

“I once had the chance to visit the Normandy beaches where so many brave souls fought – that experience will live with me forever.

“It’s vital we teach future generations the true cost of freedom and ensure they never forget the horrors we faced.

“The memory of all of those that served must be preserved, our stories must be shared when we are gone, and as a country we must educate to ensure that the world never sees a repeat of the events of World War II and D-Day.

“It’s our duty to keep the past alive, so history does not repeat its darkest days.”