D-Day Veteran Horace ‘Harry’ Billinge Dies Aged 96

Photo Credit: Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Victoria Jones / POOL / AFP / Getty Images

Horace “Harry” Billinge, a World War II veteran who was among the Allied soldiers to participate in D-Day, has passed away at the age of 96 following a short illness.

Horace 'Harry' Billinge sitting down
Horace ‘Harry’ Billinge traveling to Normandy to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, 2014. (Photo Credit: Matt Cardy / Getty Images)

In a touching tribute to her father, Sally Billinge-Shandley said:

“He was a man [who] always gave his word, his word was solid. He always fought for what he believed in. 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.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Royal British Legion said:

“Everyone at the Royal British Legion is incredibly saddened to hear of the passing of Harry Billinge. He [epitomized] the spirit of our wartime generation and his dedication supporting veterans causes, including the Poppy Appeal, was nothing short of remarkable.”

Billinge was a sapper attached to the No. 44 Royal Engineer Commandos during WWII. Among the first wave of Allied troops to storm Gold Beach on June 6, 1944, he knew the primary objectives for the landings: to secure a beachhead, capture Arromanches and establish a connection with US forces at Omaha Beach, link up with Canadian troops at Juno Beach, and capture both Bayeux and the port at Port-en-Bessin.

He was one of only four members of his unit to survive the landing.

Following Gold Beach, Billinge participated in the Battle for Caen between the German Panzergruppe West and the British Second Army, as well as fighting in the Falaise pocket. The latter was the decisive engagement of the Battle for Normandy, not only opening the Franco-German border on the Western Front, but also leading to the liberation of Paris.

US troops landing on Omaha Beach
US assault troops and equipment landing on Omaha Beach, on the Northern coast of France. (Photo Credit: Fox Photos / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

Following his service, Billinge lived in Cornwall, where he worked as a barber and served as the president of local clubs of the Royal Engineers and Royal British Legion. He spent more than 60 years collecting for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, and raised funds to build a national memorial for the 22,442 servicemen who lost their lives during D-Day and the Battle for Normandy.

For his efforts, he was appointed an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II. The Great Western Railway (GWR) also dedicated one of six trains to him.

Horace 'Harry' Billinge leaning his head on his cane
Horace ‘Harry’ Billinge attending the 75th commemoration of D-Day in Arromanches, 2019. (Photo Credit: Gareth Fuller / PA Images / Getty Images)

Billinge is survived by his wife, three children and two granddaughters.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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