A D-Day veteran says his generation ‘saved the world’ and it is the soldiers who died who are the real heroes.
In an emotionally charged interview on the anniversary of the Normandy landings, Harry Billinge, 93, described how his friend died in his arms during battle and that he will never forget those who gave their lives.
Speaking to the BBC, the former Royal Engineer said: “I can’t explain. All I know is Normandy veterans love one another beyond the love of women. If you were in a hole in the ground with a bloke, you got to know him.
“Marvellous men, my generation saved the world and I will never forget any of them.”
The courageous veteran then opened up about how he lost a close friend during battle.
Harry saw his friend die in his arms. Credit: BBC
He said: “A mate of mine died in my arms in a field in Caen. He had a three-week-old baby called Nieve and it took me to the 60th anniversary to find out where he was buried. They buried him in a little cemetery called La Delivrande and I go up there and I put a cross on his grave.”
Shaking the presenter’s hand, Harry apologised for getting upset, saying: “I’m very sorry, I get a bit choked.”
But he insisted that he is ‘no hero’, adding: “Don’t thank me and don’t call me a hero. I’m no hero, I was lucky, I’m here. All the heroes are dead and I will never forget them as long as I live.”
Harry was just 18-years-old when he joined the Royal Engineers and landed on Gold Beach at in the early hours of 6 June 1944 and was part of the first wave of troops of the operation.
The courageous veteran apologised for getting ‘choked’ during the emotional interview. Credit: BBC
This year will be his final pilgrimage to Normandy as he sees how the thousands of pounds he raised have been used to build a new memorial commemorating the dead.
Speaking to the Wiltshire Times, Harry said: “When I went over to Normandy it made a big impression on me that I am unable to forget today.
“I wanted to help all the fellas that never came back. When I heard about the monument I thought ‘This is what I’ve been kept for – to collect for that’.
“I had to do that, it was a must. I shan’t be going again I don’t think. This is my swansong.”
Featured Image Credit: BBC