D-Day veterans prove that age shall not weary them

These days they might have to parade in wheelchairs but 73 years ago they were fighting to save Europe.

Tuesday, 3rd October 2017, 10:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th October 2017, 10:45 am
Veterans Don Sheppard, 97, (left) of the 51st Highland Division and John Sleep, 96, originally of the Royal Berkshires, then of the Parachute Regiment. PPP-170110-101804006

Don Sheppard is now 97, John Sleep is 96, but as young men in 1944 they took part in the D-Day landings.

They were just two of the old soldiers who spent last weekend in Portsmouth as part of the Spirit of Normandy Trust’s annual reunion.

The trust, founded in 1994, is the successor to the Normandy Veterans’ Association which was disbanded as its members grew older.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Veterans Don Sheppard, 97, (left) of the 51st Highland Division and John Sleep, 96, originally of the Royal Berkshires, then of the Parachute Regiment. PPP-170110-101804006

Apart from taking part in the Normandy landings in June 1944, Mr Sheppard, who served with the 51st Highland Division, saw Second World War action in North Africa. Sicily and across Europe.

Mr Sleep, originally of the Royal Berkshire Regiment and then of the Parachute Regiment, joined Operation Overlord on D-Day plus-four and is also a veteran of Operation Market Garden and the Battle of Arnhem, the daring but doomed September 1944 Allied airborne attempt to shorten the end of the war.

Veterans came from across Britain for a series of social events and a parade on Castle Field, Southsea.

Pictures: Duncan Shepherd

One of the standard bearers at the Spirit of Normandy Trust reunion at Caslte Field, Southsea
One of the standard bearers
The Spirit of Normandy Trust's annual reunion for Normandy veterans on Castle Field, Southsea
Councillor Ken Ellcome, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, chats to Peter Lloyd, the secretary of the Normandy Veterans Alliance, during an inspection of the parade.
In the foreground is Peter Lloyd, the Secretary of the Normandy Veteran's Alliance and secretary of the Market Garden Commemorative Assocciation
Veterans Don Sheppard, 97, (left) of the 51st Highland Division and John Sleep, 96, originally of the Royal Berkshires, then of the Parachute Regiment. PPP-170110-101804006
One of the standard bearers at the Spirit of Normandy Trust reunion at Caslte Field, Southsea
One of the standard bearers
The Spirit of Normandy Trust's annual reunion for Normandy veterans on Castle Field, Southsea
Councillor Ken Ellcome, the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, chats to Peter Lloyd, the secretary of the Normandy Veterans Alliance, during an inspection of the parade.
In the foreground is Peter Lloyd, the Secretary of the Normandy Veteran's Alliance and secretary of the Market Garden Commemorative Assocciation