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Friday, June 14, 2024

Tears as daughter is reunited with GWR train named in honour of her father, D-Day hero Harry Billinge MBE

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Margot Billinge was moved to tears today as she greeted the Great Western Railway train named in honour of her late father, D-Day hero and fundraiser for the Normandy Memorial Trust, Harry Billinge MBE.

Having travelled from her home in St Austell, Margot was at London Paddington to greet Intercity Express Train 802006 as it arrived on Platform 1, next to the iconic war memorial.

GWR arranged the special train tribute ahead of Margot’s attendance at tonight’s D-Day 80th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall.,

Margot said:

“I’m so thankful to GWR for sorting this today. Dad would have been 99 this year and not a day goes by when I don’t think about him. I don’t think anyone can truly imagine what all those brave soldiers went through.

“We’ve got so much to thank them for and I just feel so incredibly emotional as we commemorate this special anniversary. It has been wonderful to see Dad’s train again. He was so proud when it was named in his honour.”

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said:

“We were proud to name one of our Intercity Express Trains after Harry Billinge MBE, who undoubtedly took part in one of the most important battles of World War Two.

“Over the past four years it has travelled hundreds and thousands of miles across our communities, serving as a reminder of the sacrifice, bravery and tenacity that later generations owe so much to.

“We were delighted to arrange for Harry’s daughter, Margot, to be able to see it today, and hope that it adds some poignancy to what is such an important day, as we remember the heroics of those who took part in the D-Day landings 80 years ago.”

Harry Billinge WWII

Harry was one of the first soldiers to land on ‘Gold’ beach at 0630 on 6 June 1944. He was a sapper attached to the 44 Royal Engineer Commandos and was one of only four to survive from his unit. He went on to fight in Caen and the Falaise Pocket in Normandy.

He was awarded an MBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List for his fundraising efforts in St Austell, raising more than £50,000 towards the creation of the British Normandy Memorial.

Harry Billinge-2

IET 802006 was named in Harry’s honour at a ceremony in Penzance on 7 October 2020, as GWR marked 75 years since the end of the Second World War.

Others to be celebrated include highly-decorated spy Odette Hallowes; ‘Cockleshell Hero’ Cpl George Sheard; ‘Great Escape’ pilot Wing Commander Ken Rees; World War II codebreaker Alan Turing, and Gurkha soldier Tul Bahadur Pun VC.

Image credit: GWR

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