A contingent of air cadets from Ashington visited Normandy last week to pay their respects to those who lost their lives during D-Day.
Blyth-based photo/journalist John Tuttiett met up with the cadets at their base camp near the famous Mulberry Harbour at Arromanches and told them of D-Day veteran Joe Riley’s exploits.
The cadets were keen to meet up with a local hero and few telephone calls later it was arranged for the next day.
Joe met with the cadets at the Hillman Bunker, one of the strategic targets of the airborne forces in the first wave of Operation Overlord in the early morning of June 6, 1944.
The cadets were visibly moved by Joe’s incredible story, each of them listening intently as Joe told of his involvement in the dramatic events which started the Allies’ invasion. So impressed with what they had heard they arranged a further meeting with Joe the next day at Pegasus Bridge Museum.
Whilst waiting for Joe they met with another veteran North Easterner Ted Hoult, 93, from Sunderland. Ted was a signaller with the 6th Airborne Division, landing in a glider at 3.20am on June 6 at landing zone Avon.
Ted’s exploits in Normandy are detailed in a book he has recently had published. As the cadets toured the museum with Joe, a lasting bond was been formed between the youngsters and veteran.
At the end of the visit the cadets presented Joe with a polo shirt and sweat shirt they had especially made for the trip.