D-Day veteran John hailed a hero on his return to Normandy
D-DAY veteran John Jenkins was given a hero's welcome when he went back to the village he landed at in Normandy for the first time since 1944.
The 98-year-old made an emotional trip back to Asnelles on Gold Beach.
The reunion was laid on by Portsmouth City Council.
He joined two D-Day Museum staff, who held meetings with French tourism officials to brief them about the major revamp under way at the attraction in Southsea.
Mr Jenkins, of Milton in Portsmouth, has been a volunteer at the museum for many years, regularly giving talks to visitors about his experiences.
He said: ‘It was a wonderful trip that brought back lots of memories. I was very well treated by all the people I met. Merci beaucoup!’
Mayor of Asnelles Alain Scribe hosted a reception at the town hall before Mr Jenkins, who served as a sergeant with the Royal Pioneer Corps and was responsible for moving ammunition forward from the beaches to the front line, laid a wreath at Rue des Pionniers (Pioneers Street), close to where he landed in 1944.
Mr Jenkins was given an official welcome at Caen City Hall and visited Ranville War Cemetery, Pegasus Bridge, the Pegasus Memorial Museum, Bayeux Cathedral, the Arromanches 360 Cinema, the Arromanches D-Day Museum and the Caen Memorial Museum.
City council leader Cllr Donna Jones, said: ‘When speaking to John recently about the new D-Day Museum project he told me he would love to re-visit the beaches of Normandy.
‘He has been a volunteer at Portsmouth Football Club for around 60 years and has given many years to volunteering in Portsmouth. I’m pleased that the city council has been able to facilitate this trip for him.’
Cllr Linda Symes, the council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, said: ‘It was an honour for our staff to bring him over to Normandy and I’m very glad they made the trip.’
Portsmouth’s D-Day Museum has been awarded £4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable the council, with the support of the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust, to carry out a £4.9m refurbishment project.
The museum will reopen in the spring ready to be the focus of national and international commemorations for the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019.