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D-Day veterans meet for first time at remembrance service, despite both living in Cromer

PUBLISHED: 16:35 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:35 06 June 2019

D-Day veterans George Gallagher, left, and Len Mann meet up for first time at service. Pictures: David Bale

D-Day veterans George Gallagher, left, and Len Mann meet up for first time at service. Pictures: David Bale

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Two D-Day veterans met for the first time at a remembrance service, despite both living in Cromer.

D-Day remembrance service in Cromer. Pictures: Dave 'Hubba' Roberts.D-Day remembrance service in Cromer. Pictures: Dave 'Hubba' Roberts.

Cromer Town Council, working with the church and the Royal British Legion, marked the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a vigil, a service of remembrance led by the Rev Will Warren, and the laying of D-Day 75 wreaths at the war memorial.

George Gallagher, 95, and Len Mann, 94, both have profound memories of landing on the Normandy beaches in June 1944.

They shook hands and shared a few jokes with Mr Gallagher quipping: "You're so good-looking I'll never forget you."

As they were introduced to the crowds, they were clapped, and many people personally thanked them for their wartime courage.

Four wreaths were laid at the remembrance service. Pictures: David BaleFour wreaths were laid at the remembrance service. Pictures: David Bale

Mr Mann, who lives at Halsey House care home, landed on Sword beach at 7am on June 6, 1944. He said. "I was the only one with dry cigarettes on the beach, as I had kept them in my helmet. I only saw one dead British soldier and we were not under sniper fire, as some people have said.

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"I served through Germany and ended up in Mecklenburg.

"I was not scared. I just thought that if I got killed, I would not know anything about it."

Mr Gallagher, who lives at Ashdown Court residential home, said: "On June 7, 1944 I was on a troop ship mid-Channel. I was frightened to death of U-boats.

"I landed on June 10 on Juno beach. We landed in deep water and when I jumped out of the boat, I lost my rifle. But I found another Lee Enfield rifle on the beach, so I took that.

"Our job was to build bridges. We bridged the Seine, the Maas, the Rhine and the Elbe, mostly under heavy fire. I nearly got killed many times."

Event organiser and North Norfolk district councillor Hilary Cox said: "It was a wonderful experience and we were blessed with the weather."

Cromer town councillor David Pritchard said it was the first time a Second World War battle had been remembered with the names of those who died engraved on the refurbished war memorial.

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