June 17 2019
The home helped war veteran John William Haydon to reminisce as they travelled with him to watch the flyover at Beachy Head, in Eastbourne, to commemorate the historic milestone.
The unique, once-in-a-lifetime commemorative event had been in the making for three years, and brought together the largest gathering of military aircrafts since WWII – which is said to be unlikely to ever happen again.
John was 20 years old when he joined the army in October 1942, and was serving with the REME Beach Recovery in the 21 Army Group when he landed at Arromanches Beach the day after D-Day. His responsibilities in France, then in Germany when his unit moved, included ensuring that lines of communications were kept open at all times, by removing and repairing damaged equipment.
When WWII ended, he spent the remainder of his service in India and Japan before he was discharged in 1947.
John’s exemplary military conduct earnt him the Légion d’Honneur from the French consul, which was presented to him in 2016.
Bowes House’s home manager, Helena Barrow, said: “It is always a pleasure to welcome John into the home; he is a regular respite resident and has truly become a member of the Bowes House family over the years.
“John’s story is incredible, so we were honoured to be able to help him celebrate such a special milestone by taking him to watch the historic flight over Eastbourne – after all, it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to reminisce about D-Day with an army veteran who was there.
“John was thrilled to be taking part in the commemoration, so we’re delighted to have been able to make the day extra-special for him.”