D-Day veteran John Haydon was given a hero’s welcome as he returned to the scene of the Normandy landings 70 years after the historic event.
John, 92, had only recently told his family about his past as a storeman in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers ,and daughter Tricia, along with husband Robin, took it upon themselves to arrange the trip.
On arrival, John was greeted by the tourist hostess and presented with a commemorative medal for his efforts during World War II.
“It was a wonderful and emotional day,” he said.
John found himself the centre of attention as tourists clamoured to catch a glimpse of one of their heroes and Tricia admitted it had taken them by surprise somewhat.
“People kept coming up to him to have their photos taken,” she said.
“What was really touching was seeing people from all different nationalities approach my dad.
“One Israeli boy, who was about 15 asked him, ‘were you there? Can I shake your hand?’ He started crying when he said yes, it was really moving.”
At just 20 years old, John landed on Gold Beach in Arromanches in 1944. His unit were tasked with a mass clean up operation and were separated for three days once they’d reached shore.
He was described as a “storeman with high capabilities and integrity” in his leave certificate and went on to serve in India and Japan.
“My husband and I are so proud of him,” added Tricia.