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Touching moments for veterans thanks to Lucketts
Coach firm Lucketts Travel helped WWII veterans make an emotional journey to France last month as part of the D Day 75 commemorations.

June marked the 75th anniversary of D Day, one of the most remarkable Allied wartime operations.

With Lucketts being a strong supporter of the UK’s armed forces community, it donated the use of one of its vehicles to a group of veterans, so they could visit Normandy for the anniversary. For many on board, it was an important pilgrimage to pay respect to their fallen colleagues.

There were a number of touching visits made during the journey, including the scattering of ashes of one veteran who had made the trip in previous years. Vic Bignell from Stubbington had told Project 71 organisers that he wanted to go back in 2019 “one way or another” and, after he passed away at the beginning of this year, Project 71 and seven of his fellow veterans took his ashes back to scatter them on the beach where he landed. There was a service of remembrance held by Padre Mandy Richards and was attended by many other veterans and the Royal British Legion.

Another veteran used the opportunity to return to Utah beach in the hope of meeting up with any of the Americans troops he had bought onto the beach on D Day. Mick Jennings
from Emsworth, was one of only a small handful Royal Navy personnel to deliver American forces to Utah beach as part of the Combined Operations.

Bob Gale, 97, from Headley near Bordon, also returned to the beaches of Normandy during the trip. He visited Gold beach where he received the Distinguished Service Medal for his actions on D Day.

Managing Director of Lucketts, Tony Lawman, a former Army Captain himself, said: “These brave men risked their lives for the freedom of our country. It was our absolute honour to be able to help them make this important return to Normandy.”

Lorie Coffey, from Project 71, a voluntary organisation which organised the visit, said: “I can’t put into words how grateful we are to Lucketts for its support.

This trip is so important to the veterans; it’s become a pilgrimage for them and we’re delighted it was made possible by Lucketts.”

The group was driven during its trip by Lucketts driver Peter Burgess, a volunteer with Project 71.

Lucketts is a champion of servicemen and women and has signed the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Covenant. In doing so it has pledged to offer guaranteed interviews to veterans, young and old, support employees who choose to be members of the Reserve forces and work with the Career Transition Partnership.