D-Day veterans prove that age shall not weary them

Tanks being removed from the D-Day Museum earlier this year

Clarence Esplanade to be closed for one day - because of tanks

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

One of the standard bearers at the Spirit of Normandy Trust reunion at Caslte Field, Southsea

One of the standard bearers at the Spirit of Normandy Trust reunion at Caslte Field, Southsea

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

One of the standard bearers

The Spirit of Normandy Trust's annual reunion for Normandy veterans on Castle Field, Southsea

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.

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

In the foreground is Peter Lloyd, the Secretary of the Normandy Veteran's Alliance and secretary of the Market Garden Commemorative Assocciation