Cover Image Credit: Fallen Heroes of Normandy - Facebook
A Remembrance Day video of the moment ageing Paratrooper Ray Shuck was helped to his feet so that he could salute his fallen comrades with dignity at Manchester Cenotaph has brought tears to the eyes of hundreds who have watched it.
The video of Ray, 95, quickly went viral after it was posted online but it left many wanting to know more about the proud veteran who is filmed, clearly determined to get on his feet to make his salute, as two younger Paratroopers step in to help him out of his wheelchair so that he could stand to attention and pay his respects.
Paratrooper Ray's story of his service to the country is likely only to add to the outpouring of respect and heartwarming messages of support for him - as they learn how he was a hero of D-Day and how he was once shot in the head by a German sniper.
Thousands of people have commented on social media posts of the video, which shows two fellow Paratroopers walking towards the Cenotaph on Sunday to lay a wreath in memory of their fallen friends before they spot Ray with his family and quickly realised he needed a helping hand.
In a scene that has prompted many to comment on how it showed the true bond among the Armed Forces, the younger Paratroopers, known as John and Kieran, are seen lending a respectful hand to Ray.
He stands, proudly and with dignity, then salutes his fallen comrades, before the younger Paratroopers gently sit him back down.
Ray then posed for photographs with his two comrades, on the day that thousands of people around the world gathered to mark Remembrance Sunday and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Ray's granddaughter, Joanne Raynor, told Forces Network how he had "a bit of a funny episode" at the march earlier and required medical attention by the ambulance crew on scene.
"He ended up in the back of an ambulance, but he was adamant that he still wanted to go and lay his wreath."
Listen to Joanne's full interview here:
Lucy Cook, who recorded the video, said:
"It was beautiful and totally unexpected. The gentleman has agreed to come to my mother's pub and sign the wall we have that is dedicated to all service and ex-servicemen."
Paratrooper Shuck was deployed to France in an engineless plane, called a Horsa glider, on a mission to seize the Pegasus Bridge over the Caen canal which the Nazis planned to destroy.
The successful outcome of their mission restricted the German counter-attack following the Allied invasion. This set in motion the liberation of Nazi-controlled Western Europe.
Two days later on June 8 1944, the British advanced towards Caen, the largest town in Normandy. This is when Paratrooper Shuck was shot in the head.
The bullet went in at the front of his helmet, skimmed across his head and exited through the back. He was evacuated to Worcester Royal Infirmary where he recalled nurses and doctors celebrating the announcement that the war has ended.
In 2015, he received the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, the Legion d’Honneur. Speaking to Blind Veterans UK about his time in France, Ray said:
"They called it the longest day. We fought like cats for thirty hours to stop them taking the bridges back."
People commenting on the video on Facebook said the footage made them 'well-up with pride' and spoke of their great respect for the veteran and his comrades.
One Facebook user said:
"What effort it must have taken for this man to do that. I have the utmost respect for him. Well done to the young men who assisted him in showing his respect."