D-Day veteran awarded his MBE by the Queen ….

Harry Billinge, 94, 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 said that 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. He has since dedicated much of his life to fundraising.

He said:

“It was hell on earth. Murder. The sea was red with blood, human blood,” he 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.”

“All I set out to do, I achieved and I’m still doing it.”

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.

Harry Billinge, we salute you.

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On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month….

Armistice Day is on 11 November and is also known as Remembrance Day. It marks the day World War One ended, at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, in 1918. A two-minute silence is held at 11am to remember the people who have died in wars. Remembrance Sunday is held every year on the second Sunday in November. This was yesterday and there were ceremonies held across the country at war memorials, cenotaphs, churches here in the UK and also abroad. This anniversary isn’t just to remember all those who died in World War One but also those who gave their lives in World War Two, The Falklands War, The Gulf War and also conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq to name but a few.

The first two-minute silence in Britain was held on 11 November 1919, when King George V asked the public to observe a silence at 11am. This was one year after the end of World War One. He made the request so “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.

Last year we featured the hard work of the poppy sellers and how important it was to keep this part of history fresh in our minds and over the last few weeks there have been so many remarkable tales but we couldn’t include an article about the ravages of war without mentioning 93 year old D-Day Veteran Harry Billinge. Harry was featured on the BBC previously and during his interview on the D-Day beaches he brought BBC presenter Naga Munchetty to tears. Harry was determined to raise  £22,442 for a memorial to all those that lost their lives during the D-Day landings. He said £1 for each of those lost servicemen. Hearing the interview with Harry was truly inspirational. To see him collecting money where he lives and his courage and conviction to complete the task was an interview I will never forget. The target has been reached and the memorial that was a dream has been started and is now becoming a reality. Footage of the memorial was shown to Harry for the first time and the emotion was clear to see. The vociferous ex Sapper was literally stunned and lost for words. Harry says he was no hero and that the true heroes were lost in battle. I am sure that all those soldiers would view Harry as a true inspiration and brand him a hero like the rest of the nation appears to have done. Harry Billinge – we think you are a hero.

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