D-Day veteran weeps as he returns to Sword Beach

A D-Day veteran wept on the Normandy beach where he landed 80 years ago, after local people shook his hand and thanked him.

Four veterans, Donald Jones, John Life, Jack Mortimer and Peter Newton, aged between 99 and 100, walked on Sword Beach alongside serving military personnel, after arriving in France with the Royal British Legion (RBL) on Tuesday.

All of them stormed the beach after landing on June 6 1944.

Local people approached and thanked them. Mr Jones, 99, of Mold, North Wales, became visibly moved.

He sat alone in his wheelchair with tears in his eyes and looked out to sea.

Corporal Aaron Stone, who walked with Mr Life on the beach, said: “We spoke about the day he arrived, he was a gunner on the boat.

D-Day 80th anniversary
Corporal Aaron Stone and veteran John Life return to Sword Beach in Normandy (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“He spoke about the boats opening up and getting off, and about one of his friends getting shot in the neck, which was quite a horrible and emotional time for him.

“At first he seemed really happy and in a good mood.

“When the locals started coming over and shaking his hand and saying they appreciated what he did, that got him a bit teared up and he was emotional.”

Corporal Paul Squires said talking to Mr Newton on Sword Beach was a career “highlight”.

D-Day 80th anniversary
Sergeant Ben Beale and veteran Jack Mortimer on Sword Beach (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

He said: “He talked about the initial landing and that he lost a lot of his friends, a lot of his men from his regiment.

“More specifically he talked about the noise when he first landed, and how the noise was horrific.

“When he first got on to the beach I asked what it felt like to be back, and very quickly he stopped and took in the moment.

“An overwhelming wave of emotions just hit him, and rightly so.”

Sword Beach was the easternmost of the five Normandy beaches targeted.

By the end of the day, some 29,000 men had landed and there were about 630 casualties.