HISTORY lessons were brought to life when a D-Day veteran paid a visit to a school in Fareham.
Tom Finigan spent a morning with the pupils at Henry Cort Community College recounting his experiences of the Normandy landings in 1944.
As one of a very few mine disposal specialists, Mr Finigan was deployed with the Canadian forces on Juno beach to clear the beach of mines before the bulk of the invasion force landed.
Kept awake with tablets given to him by the army, he worked constantly for four days and nights diffusing mines while under steady fire. The pupils listened and were then given a chance to ask questions and to try to imagine how they might have coped in his shoes.
Mr Finigan, 87, said: ‘I have done it before a few years ago, when I went to a school in Portchester. I found it was quite nice.
‘It’s only recently that the students have been told about the Second World War.
‘I enjoyed it and I am hoping that they did too.
‘They were very enthusiastic. I was happy that they enjoyed it.
‘There was one young boy who told me that his great -grandfather was there on D-Day but he didn’t speak much about it and he wanted to know more.’
Emma Hartnell, history curriculum leader at the school, said: ‘It was a great opportunity for them. They said themselves although they can get information from textbooks, nothing beats hearing things first hand.
‘In terms of their GCSE, it helps them with their contextual knowledge and further understanding of that period.
‘He was brilliant. He spoke to them clearly and was confident in telling stories to them. He took great time to answer their questions.’
The visit to the school was organised in a bid to unite the younger and the older generations.
It comes as part of a research initiative amongst older people in the UK started by Churchill Retirement Living which showed that older people feel forgotten about by wider society.