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Norfolk's Normandy veterans set off on journey to D-Day beaches to mark 75th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 08:37 04 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 04 June 2019

Normandy veterans, from left, Jack Woods, David Woodrow, and Len Fox, with David's grandson, William, ready on the coach for the annual pilgrimage to France, this time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Normandy veterans, from left, Jack Woods, David Woodrow, and Len Fox, with David's grandson, William, ready on the coach for the annual pilgrimage to France, this time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, the turning point of the Second World War. These Norfolk D-Day veterans will be in France to mark it.

The heads of state - Donald Trump, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron - will grab the limelight but the true heroes of this week's D-Day commemorations are the veterans who fought for their freedom.

Amongst their number are Norfolk's Normandy veterans, Jack Woods, David Woodrow, Len Fox and Harry Bowdery.

Setting off this morning bound for Caen, the city they were tasked with liberating in June 1944, the old soldiers were looking forward to being back on French soil, a pilgrimage they make every year.

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"These big anniversaries attract the dignitaries and there is a great deal of attention, but we are there every year and for us, every year is just as special," said Mr Woods.

"We're always glad, though, when people do stop to think about D-Day and Normandy because it means that people will be remembering what happened in 1944 when there are no veterans to remind them.

"We go back to remember the comrades that never came home. The call to Normandy is always strong."

Jack, from the 9th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment, 31 Tank Brigade, David Woodrow from the 652 Air Observation Squadron, Royal Air Force, Len Fox, Despatch Rider, Royal Service Corps and Harry Bowdery, Chief Petty Officer, Royal Navy: every one of them a hero and every one of them transformed by one devastating yet triumphant summer.

While in Normandy, the veterans - who will be joined by a small handful of others from Norfolk and Suffolk including Alan King from the East Riding Yeomanry, 33rd Armoured Brigade who have travelled separately- will attend a number of services and official events.

This newspaper will be travelling alongside the veterans in France.

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