Veterans

D-Day Veteran Dedicates MBE To Comrades Killed In 'Hell On Earth' Wartime Normandy

Former Royal Engineer Horace "Harry" Billinge was 18 when he landed on Gold Beach in June 1944.

A D-Day veteran has dedicated his MBE to his fallen comrades who "inspired" him.

Former Royal Engineer Horace "Harry" Billinge was 18 years old when he landed on Gold Beach on 6 June 1944.

The scenes he witnessed stayed with him after the Second World War and inspired him to raise funds to commemorate those who died in the conflict.

Now aged 94, Mr Billinge has received his MBE from the Queen for his services to charitable fundraising.

He was driven to Buckingham Palace in a Bentley to collect the honour at an investiture ceremony.

At the event, Mr Billinge said he wanted his MBE dedicated to the 22,442 service personnel killed on D-Day and during the Battle for Normandy.

"It was hell on earth. Murder," he said describing the scenes he faced in Nazi-occupied France on D-Day.

"The sea was red with blood, human blood.

"Some men were baptised in their own blood.

It was a terrible, terrible time. And what for? Not much," he said.

Billinge and his wife after investiture MBE ceremony 030320 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
Mr Billinge and his wife after receiving his MBE at Buckingham Palace.

"I have been unable to forget D-Day. I could never forget."

Mr Billinge, who holds France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, said he had raised more than £50,000 for veterans.

As well as collecting for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal for 64 years, he has also raised funds for the British Normandy Memorial and was chairman of the Cornwall branch of the Normandy Veterans’ Association.

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."

Former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones was also honoured at Buckingham Palace.

Speaking to Forces News after the investiture ceremony, he said it was "a very special thing to come to."

"To be given an award of such significance by Her Majesty is such a privilege," he said.

Admiral Sir Philip Jones investiture at Buckingham Palace 030320 CREDIT BFBS .jpg
Former First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones also received his honour at the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Asked about what he feels he had achieved while leading the Royal Navy, Adm Jones said he "had a great sense of continuity and change".

"You can't stand still in a modern service," he said.

"There is a great need to recognise where new threats and challenges are coming from and the way the Navy needs to adapt to be able to respond to those threats.

"We are ultimately a tool of the Government and it's important we can put the Navy in the best place to deliver against what the Government wishes us to do."

Cover image: PA.