Shropshire military vehicle buffs to join D-Day parades - with video
A group of friends from Shropshire will join a parade of thousands to mark the heroic sacrifice of those who fought in the Normandy landings.
The group of military history enthusiasts will make the trip from their home town to Normandy on June 2 for a week of parades honouring those who paid the ultimate price in the fight against Hitler 75 years ago.
The group includes Paul Wallis from Bridgnorth, Peter Greenslade from Ditton Priors and Mitch Hickman from Bobbington, who will take their own restored vehicles to Portsmouth, where they will join a convoy of about 100 others from the Military Vehicle Trust on their way to France.
Paul, who works for BAE Systems, said D-Day was the most important day of the 20th century.
“It was the turning point of the war,” he said. “The British alone lost 22,500 men. We’re travelling to France to mark our respect.
“This could be the last big one, because of the age of the veterans.
“That makes me feel very humble. Last time there were 80,000 people lining the streets, which was an amazing sight. The veterans are rightly treated like stars.”
The group travel to France every five years for the event, which celebrates Normandy veterans from around the world.
“You still get loads of veterans, although they are all in their mid-90s now, and they do enjoy seeing the old vehicles on parade,” Paul said.
“It brings back a lot of memories for them, and some of the old guys come and have a ride in them.
“We don’t do enough for veterans in this country. Over there it is a massive event.
“There’s no memorial to British troops on the beaches over there, but there’s a big campaign to have one.”
Paul has been involved in military restoration for about 15 years.
“Part of my job is modern military stuff, and I’ve dabbled in cars before,” he said. “I just like classic old stuff.
“The Second World War stuff is something that has to be kept alive. Otherwise it just goes in a scrap yard.
“If you talk to anybody that restores anything – engines, railway trains, anything – they don’t like to see things scrapped.”