Peter and Len's D-day Challenge
Veterans

Normandy Veterans Complete 100-Mile Cycle Challenge

The two veterans are using a static bike to cycle the distance from Portsmouth to Gold Beach.

Peter and Len's D-day Challenge

Two Normandy veterans have cycled more than 104 miles on static bikes based in their care home.

The challenge represents the journey they made 76 years ago from Portsmouth to Gold Beach, Normandy.

Len Gibbon and Peter Hawkins, aged 96 and 97 respectively, began cycling on VE Day and finished yesterday, to mark the anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

Speaking about the challenge, Mr Gibbon said: "Although I’m 96, I still like to be active and take on new challenges.

"By cycling the same distance as the journey I took 76 years ago, it feels like a fitting tribute to those who were part of the Normandy landings.

"The Normandy landings were like nothing else.

"You had to climb down this rope netting which hung down the side of the boat.

"Then when we got down to a certain point, someone shouted ‘Jump!’ and you had to fall backwards, someone caught you and pushed you on to the smaller landing craft to take you to shore."

Peter and Len's D-day Challenge

Len Gibbon was in Normandy at the end of the invasion.

He was then posted to the Netherlands, via Brussels and was part of Operation Market Garden in September of 1944.

From there he travelled to Germany, which is where he was based when it was announced the war was over.

"I was on my way to Hamburg, riding my motorbike along the autobahn by myself," he said.

"Suddenly a Spitfire was flying above me, came right down as if it was going to land on the road, then flew back up and did a loop.

"The pilot shouted down to me with thumbs up, shouting 'victory'.

"Then I knew it was over. I stood up on my bike, arms in the air, cheering."

Mr Hawkins, who landed at Gold Beach a few days after Mr Gibbon, was awarded a belated Legion d’Honneur in recognition of his military service for the liberation of France.

Over the course of their cycle they have raised more than £6,000 for Care for Veterans, a charity that provides care and rehabilitation to physically disabled ex-service personnel and their families.

Cover image: Care For Veterans.