London cab drivers who volunteer for the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans took a group of 24 veterans to Normandy for six days for the D-Day commemorations. The trip included visits to the British Normandy Memorial and the Juno Beach Centre, ceremonies of remembrance at Grangues, the Pegasus Memorial and the Ranville Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery, an afternoon with students from a school in Cabourg and a meeting with the D-Day Commemoration Committee.
Normandy veteran, Bill Gladden, who served with the 6th Airborne, Recce Regiment, said: "I flew into Normandy in a glider on D-Day and I have been fortunate to have been coming on trips for years with the Taxi Charity to remember the friends that I lost. I cannot thank the charity and all the volunteer drivers for the care they take with us. This year they arranged for me to say the Khomia Epitaph at the remembrance service at Memorial Pegasus which was a real honour. The London cab drivers are so kind to us and as soon as locals and visitors see the convoy of taxis, they applaud and cheer as we drive past. I know they aren’t just thanking us but thanking the cabbies who take the time to drive us. I’m 98, so a trip to Normandy would be unthinkable without the charity. They pick me and my niece up from home in a black cab, give us a fabulous week away and then return us to our door. They are a very special group of men and women."
Dick Goodwin, vice president of the Taxi Charity, said: "After not being able to visit Normandy since 2019, it was a pleasure to finally be able to return these veterans to France to remember those who did not come home. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on fundraising for all charities and we are no different. Our veterans, their carers, and the volunteer cab drivers who generously give their time to drive us, do not pay for the trips and although it is our greatest wish to be able to return to Normandy in 2023, we need donations and support for our fundraising activities to make future trips possible."
View full photo galleries from Associated Press and Dean Euesden on our Flickr channel.
Friday 3 June 2022
21:30 Arrival of the Portsmouth – Ouistreham ferry at Ouistreham
30 min drive to the Kyriad Prestige Hotel in Dives-Cabourg
Saturday 4 June 2022
11:00 Garden of remembrance at Arromanches
13:30 Lunch at Lion-sur-Mer (view photos courtesy, of Antoinette Valkestijn)
15:30 Free afternoon to go to special personal places of remembrance or to rest
Sunday 5 June 2022
11:00 Ceremony at the Pegasus Memorial (view photos, courtesy of Antoinette Valkestijn)
13:00 Lunch at Lion-sur-Mer
15:15 Visit of the Juno Beach Center at Courseulles-sur-Mer
17:30 Service at the Bayeux Cathedral
Monday 6 June 2022
09:45 Ceremony at the Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer
11:00 Ceremony at the Ranville CWGC for the Paras (view photos, courtesy of Antoinette Valkestijn)
[11:30 Royal British Legion service at Bayeux CWGC]
13:30 Lunch at Lion-sur-Mer
16:30 D-Day Commemoration Committee Official Ceremony at Bernières-sur-Mer
18:00 Ceremony at Lion-sur-Mer/ 18:00 Unofficial Ceremony at the Memorial at Ver-sur-Mer
Tuesday 7 June 2022
10:00 Service at Grangues for the gliders’ casualties
12:30 Lunch Rue de Saint-Aubin at Colleville-Montgomery with the Mayor
15:30 Visit to Collège Saint-Louis in Cabourg: meeting the pupils
Wednesday 8 June 2022
11:00 Short ceremony at Bill Millin’s statue at Colleville-Montgomery with the Mayor
and the pupils of Cabourg (view photos, courtesy of Antoinette Valkestijn)
12:00 Cocktail reception under the Marquee
13:15 Departure to go to Ouistreham for the ferry crossing to Portsmouth at 14:30