A 93-year-old hospice patient is to embark on a tour of the Normandy beaches where he took part in the D-Day landings 74 years ago.
Ray Mellors, a patient at Nottinghamshire Hospice, has not been back to France since he fought in the allied invasion of Western Europe. He responded to a call for surviving World War II veterans to join tours provided free by the Royal British Legion with funding from the Treasury.
Ray, who sets off this week, said:
“Even though I said when I got home after the war I am never going to cross that channel ever again, it is something I have wanted to do for years. I seriously never thought I would go back. It means such a lot to me after all these years. You cannot imagine how much I am looking forward to it.”
Ray, with others from the South Staffordshire Regiment, landed on Sword beach in Normandy shortly after D-Day and was involved in the liberation of Caen before moving further into France and on to Belgium. He later joined Blackwatch regiment and took part in the Rhine crossing.
His week-long tour will take in the five Normandy beaches of Sword, Juno, Gold Utah and Omaha as well as Bayeux Cathedral and Bayeux War Cemetery. His trip will also take him to Caen – the first city liberated by his regiment.
Ray’s daughter Sharon, who is also his carer, spotted the Royal British Legion appeal for veterans and booked him onto the tour. Tours typically cater for 10 veterans, with a support team including a medic, a senior member of the Royal British Legion and an experienced tour guide. Each veteran can take a family member and carer, and hotels are carefully chosen for comfort and convenience with accessible walk-in showers.
Liz Morgan, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Nottinghamshire Hospice, said:
“It is important for patients to take opportunities like this while they can. Ray’s really excited about the trip and all the other patients and staff are excited for him. We cannot wait to hear all about it and see the photographs when he gets back.”
For more information visit Nottinghamshire Hospice