Harry Billinge and the new Gold Beach Memorial

Discussion in 'All Anniversaries' started by bamboo43, Nov 8, 2019.

  1. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

  2. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    D-Day veteran Harry Billinge appointed MBE

    The 94-year-old has been appointed MBE for services to charitable fundraising

    A D-Day veteran who raised more than £25,000 towards the cost of building a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades has become an MBE.
    Harry Billinge, 94, said he was accepting the honour in memory of the "fellas that never came back".
    He was presented with the honour by the Queen during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

    Mr Billinge from St Austell, Cornwall was 18 when he landed on Gold Beach on June 6, 1944.
    "It was hell on earth. Murder. The sea was red with blood, human blood," he said.
    Mr Billinge, who has dedicated much of his life to fundraising, said the memory of the servicemen killed during D-Day had "never left him".
    "I never expected any medal for collecting a few pounds, or a thousand pounds for the boys that never came back," he told BBC Breakfast.
    "All I set out to do, I achieved and I'm still doing it."

    The D-Day veteran said he was "very thankful" for the honour

    Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Billinge said it was "wonderful" to meet the Queen.
    "She was very, very kind. There are no words to describe it."
    The veteran, who also holds France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, is well-known for his charity work in Cornwall, where he has collected for the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal for more than 60 years.

    image.png Mr Billinge has actively supported the Normandy Memorial Trust, visiting the site of the memorial above Gold Beach where he landed in 1944

    In June 2019 he travelled to Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

    He went to see the unveiling of the first foundation stones of a memorial to remember those who served in the British forces during the war.
    Buteman, JimHerriot, 4jonboy and 4 others like this.
  4. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    A wonderful moment with Her Majesty there.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  5. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    Anybody know what unit he was with? I have read that he says he was a Royal Engineer in the Commandos and landed on Gold Beach at 6.30 am with the 2nd Bn South Wales Borderers. I would like to understand what is right/wrong here... Something is wrong!
    Marc Locks likes this.
  6. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Harry was RE and landed in the first wave alongside others: that could be the cause of any confusion and/or conflation.
    As he told me a few months ago 'it was my job to blow stuff up. If someone said "go blow it up" I'd go blow it up'. His first big target was, apparently, the Radar Station above Gold Beach.
    JimHerriot likes this.
  7. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    But he also states that he landed with the 2nd Bn South Wales Borderers and they were not first wave, hence my question.
  8. gash hand

    gash hand Well-Known Member

    very moving photos of a brave and modest man
    sheila and richard
    JimHerriot likes this.
  9. Gold

    Gold Member

    I think he was in the 81st RE squadron alongside with the 50th ID

    He told me that he was on the first wave but he wasn't with the 2nd SWB for sure.
    gash hand likes this.
  10. gash hand

    gash hand Well-Known Member

    Good News, we have received an email from Normandy Memorial Trust informing us that construction work resumes on the Ver-Sur-Mer site following easing of restrictions in France after 2 month shutdown caused by the coronavirus.
    dizzy and she
    JimHerriot likes this.
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Emotional D-Day surprise for veteran in lockdown
    D-Day anniversary: Emotional surprise for veteran in lockdown
    "Harry Billinge had planned to be in Normandy for the 76th anniversary of D-Day, visiting a new British memorial with other veterans.
    The 94-year-old raised tens of thousands of pounds for the memorial - and he was even made an MBE for his efforts.
    But the trip was cancelled due to coronavirus. So BBC Breakfast surprised with a face from the past."

    See memorial image in article below:
    Lance Corporal NEADES, JOSEPH GEORGE
    Service Number 1875546
    Died 06/07/1944
    Aged 22
    17 Field Coy. Royal Engineers
    Son of Joseph George and Mary Catherine Neades; husband of Amy Ellen Neades, of Piddletrenthide, Dorsetshire.
    Location: Calvados, France
    Number of casualties: 1025
    Cemetery/memorial reference: VIII. C. 3.
    See cemetery plan

    Memorial 'brought to veterans' for D-Day
    World War II veterans whose D-Day anniversary trip to the new British Normandy Memorial was cancelled are being brought new footage of the site to mark the day.

    More than 70 veterans, many in their mid-90s, were meant to make the trip for the 76th anniversary on Saturday.

    Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Normandy Memorial Trust is showing them the latest construction work instead.

    The memorial was meant to be officially opened on 4 September.

    That ceremony will now take place in spring or early summer 2021 instead.

    Lord Peter Ricketts, chairman of trustees at the Normandy Memorial Trust, said: "We at the trust know how much the veterans and their families were looking forward to visiting the site around the time of the D-Day anniversary to see the memorial taking shape.

    "We share their frustration that the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic have made that impossible. But the good news is that we are pressing on with real determination to complete the construction, despite all the obstacles.

    "I pay tribute to the dedication of everyone involved in this."
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  12. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce

    Saw that news on tv this morning Diane. What a wonderful story.

    JimHerriot, gash hand and dbf like this.
  13. gash hand

    gash hand Well-Known Member

    Thank you Diane, we agree with Lesley, a wonderful story, uplifting in these uncertain times. We shall never forget.

    Dizzy and She
    JimHerriot likes this.
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    Sorry to appear a party pooper, but just because an old man sets himself a mission to build a memorial doesn't make it a great idea.

    The core motive for the memorial seems to be the idea that we do not do enough to commemorate those who served and died in the Liberation of Europe. This is flawed logic. The Commonwealth already has an established way to commemorate war dead. There is already memorial to the Missing at Bayeux and the Bayeux War Cemetery which is where our acts of Remembrance have been held for many years.

    The Bayeux memorial commemorates ALL who died in France during the period, not just those involved in the dramatic cross channel assault that is the trigger for national remembrance and a media moment. There are men who died as PW or in the invasion of southern France or as members of the Special Forces in the French interior.

    The Bayeux war cemetery is a historic location as the cemetery was started in wartime and the graves are witnesses of the story. The dead include allies from Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union as well as members of the merchant marine. They also include Germans, a fallen enemy but current day ally. Our war cemeteries are humbling but majestic places. They are fitting locations for acts of Remembrance.

    It isn't clear to me what part the new memorial is going to play in national commemoration. Is it going to replace Bayeux as the focus for British commemorations? If so it is a very bad idea to allow sentimentality to overturn an established well founded custom. Ver-sur -Mer is not a great place to hold an event with tens of thousands of spectators. It will be a nightmare to participate in an event there. It ain't great at Bayeux, which is at least served by a dual carriageway and on the motorway network.

    The Normandy Veterans Association used to hold their commemorations at the stature of Montgomery in Colleville-Montgomery. Is that now neglected?
    minden1759 and Owen like this.
  15. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Whilst respecting your point of view, I think it's appropriate to point out the massive conflation in your post that may mislead people reading it. The implication is that the Memorial is the 'mission of an old man' aka Harry Billinge and that that is somehow disrespectful to others (you mention aspects that amount to 'competition' with other Memorials etc). That is simply not correct.
    1. The Memorial is not the idea of Harry Billinge.
    2. Harry is simply a high profile fund raiser who has caught the imagination of the public and who throughly deserves all the credit and air time he gets.
    3. The Memorial was actually the idea of the Normandy Veterans Association. To avoid repeating the full detail, this can be found in the link below.

    Background - Normandy Memorial Trust
    gash hand and 4jonboy like this.
  16. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake All over the place....

    It says the idea was from George Batts who became secretary of the NVA. The memorial website does not claim that this was an NVA policy.

    I stand by the rest of my comments. While Normandy was a bloody campaign those who served there, including my father, do not deserve to have their service elevated over others who served in less well known or successful campaigns.
    One of my uncles died at Dieppe. Was his life and service any less deserving of a special memorial?
    What about those who served for nearly two years in the Italian Campaign? Or died as a FEPOW captive of the Japanese? Or in Burma?
    minden1759 likes this.
  17. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    No one is elevating any veteran above any other. If you take that slippery slope approach then you may as well say "there should be only one Memorial and that should be dedicated to all those that died, were wounded or otherwise took part in WW2 whether they were civilian, military or whatever". I presume that is not what you are implying! I could go on with lots of detail (key words re my family: Burma, slave labour, left to die, Normandy etc etc etc) but won't as it will detract from the noble subject of this thread.
  18. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    The story of the new memorial is a bit of a dumpster fire, as it err... does not contain the names of all casualties of the campaign, that's for starters.

    They have also refused to change course on the inclusion of names so we have brothers and cousins who won't be commemorated together as they don't fit into the chocolate box criteria. Such arbitrary decision on dates etc shows that those involved simply do not understand the battle in the slightest.

    It has gone massively overbudget and been very, very poorly managed running years behind schedule in a campaign that borders on sheer farce, whilst lofty praise is lauded on the endeavour.

    A massive heritage white elephant which still promises to deliver a museum at some point, subject to massive future funding, but I don't trust this team to even know how to tie their own shoelaces - let alone achieve it. I've got a tenner on it that this becomes our Monash Centre.
  19. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    We have another thread on the memorial somewhere on the forum .
    I can't find it & I can usually find anything on here.
    I said years ago I didn't see the point in it.
  20. SDP

    SDP Incurable Cometoholic

    Now I'm totally confused - the Memorial contains the names of all those British (that's my understanding ) casualties as that's the whole point of the project. Are you saying that's not the case; if you are then I agree there are serious concerns?
    gash hand likes this.

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