Oldest surviving D-Day veteran, 109, who was shot during the landings, 'doesn't want any medals or fuss'

5 June 2024, 23:33

Donald Rose, oldest surviving D-Day veteran, speaks to LBC

By George Icke

Donald Rose, who at 109 is the oldest surviving D-Day veteran, will be honoured at a special commemorative service on the 80th anniversary of the landings on Thursday.

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Mr Rose, who also served in North Africa, will mark June 6 by journeying from the Ilkeston care home where he lives to be a VIP guest at a commemorative service in Derby Cathedral.

Mr Rose was shot in the leg during the D-Day landings, which saw Allied troops land on five beaches in northern France, in what was a turning point in the Second World War.

He was part of an advance party that placed what were known as beacon lamps on beaches so the Allies could establish their bridgehead to liberate Europe from Hitler and the Nazis.

The lamps flashed a Morse code letter every seven seconds so landing craft packed with troops could find their designated drop-off zone.

Read more: Starmer hails sacrifice of D-Day heroes on 80th anniversary, as Sunak vows to make UK 'best country for veterans'

Read more: Princess Anne smiles and laughs with D-Day veterans in emotional return to Normandy ahead of 80th anniversary

Donald Rose
Donald Rose. Picture: LBC

In recognition of his courage, Mr Rose was given France’s highest award – the Legion D’Honneur.

But his son David Rose, 74 – a retired NHS hospital technician living in West Hallam – said: "He didn’t want the medals, he wanted no fuss at all and he just got on with it."

Mr Rose was born in 1914 and served in North Africa and Europe, later becoming a sniper.

Erewash’s Deputy Mayor Harry Atkinson will also be attending the Derby Cathedral service – while back in Erewash commemorations will be held at Ilkeston’s Cenotaph and Long Eaton War Memorial. Mayor of Erewash Cllr Kate Fennelly will attend both events in the borough.

The Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire, Elizabeth Fothergill, will join her at the Cenotaph service, which commences at 10:45am.

King Charles makes emotional speech at D-Day service

Mrs Fothergill said: "The D-Day 80 celebrations in Derby will be a poignant tribute to the courage and heroism of those who served."It is a time to come together as a community and honour their legacy."

Dr Peter Robinson, Dean of Derby, said: "We are privileged to host this commemoration at Derby Cathedral, a place of solace and reverence."Let us gather in unity to pay tribute and express our gratitude."

Erewash will fly special 80th anniversary flags as bells ring out across the nation. An official poem that has been written includes the line: “More than five thousand ships, the biggest Armada ever seen, sailed from British shores and our fields of green.”

Princess Anne speaks to D-Day veterans

It ends: “Over ten thousand casualties the Allies had that first day. With over four thousand dead, a heavy price to pay.

“D-Day made heroes, in that hell unknown. Helping turn the tide of war, as the enemy were overthrown.”

The 80th anniversary of D-Day will be marked by ceremonies in France and England, with King Charles, Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer all attending a memorial service with Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

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