Cornwall

Harry Billinge: Cornwall D-Day veteran appointed MBE

Harry Billinge and the Queen
Image caption 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."

Image copyright Normandy Memorial Trust/PA Wire
Image caption 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 copyright Normandy Memorial Trust/PA Wire
Image caption 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.

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