“It’s not just about me. Everyone is a hero,” says John Mines, after crossing the English Channel by ferry, along with 28 other Britons from the Normandy Landings, to mark the 80th anniversary of the key military operation, known as D-Day.

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Eight decades ago, they were preparing for the largest amphibious operation of all times. On Tuesday, they disembarked smiling on a ferry to attend the ceremonies of their deed. of June 6, 1944.

“I’m not particularly proud of what I did, but if I had to do it again, I would do it. I’m happy with our sacrifice so that others could have a good life,” Mines, 99, told AFP.

The man was 19 years old when he landed in the first wave, among the engineers in charge of clearing Gold Beach of obstacles, on the shores of the Norman town of Ver-sur-Mer.

John Mines’ first mission was to clear a beach of mines. “In fact, they chose me because of my last name.”

“I was very lucky. A shell exploded a meter away from me and if a machine gun hit you, it would cut you in two. One of my companions died immediately after setting foot on the beach,” concludes the veteran.

Early on Tuesday, 20 veterans of the Royal British Legion and nine of the Spirit of Normandy Trust, Two associations of former British combatants boarded this ferry in the British port of Portsmouth, heading to the French port of Ouistreham.

Upon reaching the aft deck, under a gray sky, a dozen bagpipers greet the veterans, some of them centenarians, while the crowd of passengers pays tribute to them.

Two firefighting boats and the sirens of warships docked at the military base with their personnel at attention accompany the departure of the survivors of the Landing, while an A400M of the British air force RAF takes to the skies.

“We are here to enable veterans to pay tribute to their fallen comrades in Normandy and ensure that the legacy of what they did is not forgotten,” says Mark Waring, Vice President of the Spirit of Normandy Trust.

Too painful

Halfway through the journey of about 180 kilometers, Two veterans throw a wreath to the rhythm of the orchestra during a ceremony, which ended with several spectators in tears.

Several meters away, Joyce Cooper, 70, wears a cap with her father’s name embroidered on it.

“My father Alan landed at Lion-sur-Mer, in an amphibious Sherman tank. “He was 20 years old, he thought he only had an hour to live,” says her daughter, excited.

His tank commander died in his arms after being shot in the head during the Battle of Normandy.

“He didn’t want to go, but he received a mobilization letter at the age of 18,” Cooper explains sadly. “He didn’t talk about it until he was 40. It was too painful. He suffered a lot.”

“I’m very proud of him,” adds the woman among the veterans, who is applauded every time they cross the ship to eat or listen to a concert.

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Source: https://www.noticiascaracol.com/mundo/se-conmemoran-los-80-anos-del-desembarco-de-normandia-hecho-clave-en-la-historia-mundial-cb20

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