AIRMAN: Harry Bentley.
AIRMAN: Harry Bentley.

Veteran reflects on D-Day ceremony

HE MIGHT live half a world away, but Harry Bentley's thoughts were in Normandy yesterday remembering the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in France.

Mr Bentley, 91, of Peregian Beach, is one of the dwindling number left who were there. Back then, he was a 19-year-old air-gunner on a Lancaster bomber.

Flying as low as 400ft, instead of the usual 24,000, they bombed targets along the coastline. "And they gave me a medal for it," he said.

Mr Bentley eventually completed 30 bombing raids over Europe in the Second World War and became a decorated airman.

He is one of only three surviving Australian Distinguished Flying Cross recipients.

Poor health prevent him from attending D-Day anniversary events in France but he was part of a ceremony in Brisbane with the Queensland Governor.

In France, age had finally wearied them. They marched proudly on Sword Beach with stiff legs, bent backs and, in some cases, tears in their eyes.

After decades of annual pilgrimages to the beaches, towns and fields where their friends died, British Normandy veterans gathered for a private ceremony of remembrance for the last time.

There were 150 of them - with a combined age of around 13,500.

Queen Elizabeth, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel, François Hollande and many other leaders paid tribute to the 200,000 British, American, Canadian and some Australian men - and the handful of women - who took part in the largest seaborne invasion of all time.

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