D-Day veterans invited to Armed Forces lunch

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Veterans at previous Armed Forces Day lunch
Veterans at previous Armed Forces Day lunch

An invitation is being extended to any Lincolnshire veterans of the D-Day operations to join in a lunch being held to celebrate the contributions of our Armed Forces: past, present and future.

The 80th anniversary of the June 6 D-Day (Normandy) Landings will be the theme for North Kesteven District Council’s annual veterans’ lunch on June 24, which is a significant part of its Armed Forces Day activity and specifically celebrates the individual and collective service of veterans spanning many decades through the presentation of Veteran’s Badges.

D-Day veteran Les Budding (98) who has returned to the event regularly after receiving his Veteran’s Badge at the lunch a few years ago, is hopeful of meeting others who participated in the legendary tri-service international allied offensive by land, sea and air.

Royal Marine Les was 18 years old when he served on board Landing Craft Flak 34, charged with providing covering fire for the first wave of troops who stormed Sword Beach on June 6, 1944. He has said he was ’just one of the many’, but is now just one of the few. "Survival was luck of the draw. A lot of people were lost," he told the BBC last year.

Preceded by an airborne force of over 18,000 men, more than 132,000 troops landed on the shores of Normandy to start what is widely regarded to be the beginning of the liberation of France during the Second World War. Recorded as the largest-ever seaborne invasion, 7,000 ships took part, and air operations – some of them locally-based – played a critical role both in advance of, and on the day of the assault.

North Kesteven District Council Chairman Cllr Andrew Hagues said: “It is fitting in this significant anniversary year that the immense courage and bravery of all of those involved is remembered, celebrated and commemorated. 

“We know that there are regrettably very few of those men – and women, who supported the operation in myriad ways too – still alive to share their experiences of that time. In celebration of all those who contributed to the Normandy Landings, we would be deeply honoured to host any D-Day veterans, not just from North Kesteven but from across Lincolnshire, who are able to attend our lunch on June 24, alongside our more recent veteran guests. This really would reinforce the principle of Armed Forces Day recognising past present and future service,” said Cllr Hagues.

The invitation-only lunch will be held at the North Kesteven District Council Civic Suite in Sleaford, between noon and around 3pm. It will feature some 1940s entertainment from the singer Jayne Darling, themed readings and the presentation of Veterans’ Badges to those who have applied in recognition of their period of service within the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal or Merchant Navy as a regular, reservist or through National Service in the past. 

It will follow the usual Armed Forces Day flag raising ceremony in Sleaford Market Place between 10.30am and 11am. This is open to the public to attend.

To nominate a D-Day veteran for the lunch, and discuss arrangements, please contact the Council’s Partnerships Team on 01529 414155 or email: armedforces@n-kesteven.gov.uk before June 12. D-Day veteran guests may be joined by a companion. 

The deadline to apply to have a Veteran’s Badge presented at the lunch has now passed for this year, but for future years, applications can be made to the Partnerships Team on 01529 414155 or email: armedforces@n-kesteven.gov.uk

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