Veteran to hand over freedom flame in ceremony marking liberation of Holland

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WHEN he came ashore more than 70 years ago there was shot and shell flying everywhere and all around him men were dropping.

Ray Lord, then 19, with no combat training and armed with a rifle and grenades, set foot on Sword Beach on D-Day three-quarters of an hour after the first troops landed. The Germans had fortified the beach and from their pillboxes and blockhouses came a hail of missiles as British warships standing off the coast fired back making “one hell of a noise.”

Next Wednesday the 90-year-old who counts himself “very fortunate” to have survived, will return to Normandy to hand the Freedom Flame to a Dutch marine at 7.55am - the time he landed - as part of Holland’s commemorations of the 70th anniversary of their liberation. Over the next four days cyclists will carry the flame in lanterns to the border where they will hand it over to runners to take it to the Dutch town of Wageningen where 250,000 people are expected. The flame will then be taken to villages and towns all over the country at midnight of May 4/5. Mr Lord, of South Cave, who with fellow veteran John Ainsworth, 94, will be receiving the Legion d’Honneur, in Hull, on Sunday, said: “The torch of freedom is a symbol of what we fought for.” It comes after the French Government announced it was awarding it to all surviving veterans during last year’s 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations.