Monday, June 24, 2024
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HomePeopleLNER helps WW2 veteran return to Normandy

LNER helps WW2 veteran return to Normandy

World War Two veteran, Ken Cooke, has begun a journey to Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The former soldier boarded LNER’s special InterCity 225 train with commemorative loco ‘For the Fallen’ at one end. He’s making his way to France, travelling in the carriages behind the Class 91 locomotive, named in memory of those who have served, for his journey between York and London King’s Cross. Ken is travelling with family and members of York Normandy Veterans (YNV) to pay their respects to his comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice.

A series of major commemorations are planned in the UK and France on 5 and 6 June to honour the brave service personnel who risked their lives for freedom and peace. D-Day was the successful allied invasion of the beaches of Normandy on 6 June 1944. The landings made up the largest seaborne invasion in history and played a crucial role in liberating Western Europe from Nazi occupation.

Ninety-eight-year-old Ken, from York, served in the Green Howards Regiment from 1943 and went ashore on Gold Beach on 6 June 1944. After his military service Ken returned to York, where he worked in the Blacksmith’s shop at Rowntree’s until he retired.

Normandy Veteran, Ken Cooke, said: “It is so important that we remember and pay our respects to those who never came home. They are the real heroes.”

During his time in France Mr Cooke will remember his great friends Flying Officer Douglas Petty and Trooper Sid Metcalfe, who both died in 2022. He will scatter their ashes. Ken will also visit sites where former York Normandy Veterans were in action.

Dean Hobson, Head of Fleet at LNER, said: “When we learned of Ken’s visit to Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, we felt it only fitting that his journey began with ‘For the Fallen’, one of our fleet named in honour of those who have served, taking him to London. As a veteran myself, it is important we continue to recognise the sacrifices made by so many, and the bravery of those who fought and continue to fight for our freedom.”

Nick Beilby, of York Normandy Veterans, added: “Ken does not regard himself as a hero, but to me and many others, he most certainly is. Because of him and his comrades, we enjoy our life today.”

“Over the last 12 years, Ken and his YNV friends have spoken to many young people and groups about their experiences, and he always emphasises that it is down to them to ensure that it never happens again. Ken served his country 80 years ago, and at 98 continues to serve it now.” 

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