New Year Honours: MBE for D-Day veteran Harry Billinge

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Harry BillingeImage source, Normandy Memorial Trust/PA Wire
Image caption,
D-Day veteran Harry Billinge has been appointed MBE for services to charitable fundraising

A D-Day veteran who raised more than £25,000 towards the cost of building a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades has been appointed MBE.

Harry Billinge, 94, said he would accept the honour to recognise the 22,442 service personnel killed on D-Day and during the battle for Normandy.

The 94-year-old said he was "highly overwhelmed" by the honour.

Mr Billinge, from St Austell, Cornwall, was 18 when he landed on Gold Beach on June 6, 1944.

In June 2019 he travelled to Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

He went to see the unveiling of the first foundation stones of a memorial to remember those who served in the British forces during the war.

On the anniversary he movingly told BBC Breakfast he was not a hero.

"Don't thank me and don't say I am a hero," he said.

"All the heroes are dead and I will never forget them as long as I live."

Mr Billinge, who holds France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur, has also undertaken charity work in Cornwall, including collecting for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal for 64 years.

Image source, Normandy Memorial Trust/PA Wire
Image caption,
Mr Billinge has actively supported the Normandy Memorial Trust, visiting the site of the memorial above Gold Beach where he landed in 1944

Discussing the MBE, Mr Billinge said: "I am choked beyond measure to think I have got an MBE. I don't deserve it.

"When I get it, it won't be for me, it will be for the 22,442 blokes killed on D-Day. That's what its all about. They were marvellous men, some just 16.

"What a waste of life, terrible."

Other honours recipients from Cornwall include:

  • Andrew Day - A butcher and charity fundraiser, appointed MBE for services to the community in Porthscatho
  • Kim O'Keefe - A registered nurse for 35 years awarded a British Empire Medal for services to nursing
  • Helen Shanahan - Awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to midwifery, specifically her work ensuring new mothers receive the support they need to breastfeed both in hospital and in the community