Harry Billinge: D-Day veteran dies aged 96
D-Day veteran Horace "Harry" Billinge has died aged 96 following a short illness, his family has confirmed. Mr Billinge, from St Austell, Cornwall, was 18 when he was a sapper attached to the 44 Royal Engineer Commandos ahead of the Normandy landings. He was one of only four of his unit to survive the storming of Gold Beach on 6 June 1944.
The veteran spent more than 60 years collecting for the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal. His daughter Sally Billinge-Shandley said: "The passion he had for all the veterans that lost their lives was unwavering. "He dedicated his life to making sure that was never forgotten, that's how he'll be remembered."
Mr Billinge was appointed an MBE in 2020 after raising funds to build a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades.
He dedicated it to the 22,442 service personnel killed on D-Day and during the Battle for Normandy.
A tribute from The British Normandy Trust, posted on social media, said: "The trust sends its deepest condolences to Harry's wife Sheila, and to all his family and friends. Harry raised more than £50,000 for the memorial." In 2019 Mr Billinge said on BBC Breakfast: "I'm no hero, I was lucky, I'm here. All the heroes are dead and I'll never forget them."
Mrs Billinge-Shandley said: "Some of his last words were, 'love one another'." Mr Billinge is survived by his wife Shelia, two daughters Sally and Margot, his son Christopher and granddaughters Amy and Claire.
Rest in peace