WAR heroes have been told the government will not pay for them to go to the scene of their historic Normandy landings – until 2044.
Veterans of the WWII battle, who will then be at least 118, lobbied the government for financial help to send more than 1,000 survivors to the French beaches on the 65th anniversary, on June 6 next year.
The reply from the Ministry of Defence left veterans and campaigners stunned and has been labelled “stupid” by one Chester veteran.
It said they would not give financial backing to any 65th anniversary but would be prepared to fund commemorations for the 100th.
Reg Lancelot, 92, of Lache Hall Crescent, arrived at Normandy days after the first landing as a transport mechanic. He was awarded the France and Germany Star for his efforts.
Reg said: “It’s stupid because everybody will be gone.
“I would like to go, it would be nice to pay my respects.”
If Reg goes next year, it will be the first time he has returned to Normandy since the war.
“I didn’t go on the 60th anniversary as I’d only just lost my wife and on the 50th she didn’t want to go and I wouldn’t go without her,” he added.
“If I’m as well as I am now, I’d go next year.”
More than 1,000 British veterans have said they want to go next year, at a cost of £300,000.
While they struggle to persuade the government to send them across the Channel, the American and Canadian governments are helping theirs cross the Atlantic.
National general secretary of the Normandy Veterans Association (NVA), Peter Hodge, who received the letter from the MOD, said: “I really don’t understand why they’re going to celebrate a 100th anniversary when they’ve got veterans alive today.
“How ridiculous is it going to look to the rest of the world if our veterans can’t stand shoulder to shoulder with Americans and Canadian, as they did in the war?”
The NVA has now set up an appeal to raise the £300,000.
Donations can be sent to: The National Treasurer, The Normandy Veterans Association, 1 Chervilles, Barming, Kent, ME16 9JE