Cornwall D-Day veteran takes centre stage for 80th anniversary in London and Portsmouth

The new photographic portrait of Richard Aldred on Outernet London, in Soho
-Credit: (Image: Outernet/Blind Veterans UK)


A Cornwall D-Day veteran is taking centre stage in a new campaign to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord. Richard Aldred appears on huge digital screens in central London and Portsmouth for the week as the nation remembers.

The 99-year-old, from Callington is one of fourteen veterans who were involved in the Normandy landings to appear in the campaign by Blind Veterans UK. The photos were taken by award-winning photographer Richard Cannon.

Mr Aldred, then 19, was a tank driver and served with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, who were sent to Normandy after D-Day as reinforcement. His unit landed on Sword Beach via one of the Mulberry harbours and replaced others decimated by German forces.

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Richard has recalled the cramped, unsanitary conditions inside the tanks and the horrors of war, including suffering livestock and the stench of death. He said: "You’ve got to get on with your friends because the whole thing [tank] smells of frightened human beings, petrol, hydraulic oil and gunpowder."

He is humble when asked about his role in D-Day, saying: "I'm just an ordinary person but I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been in the Royal Armoured Corps."

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Richard Aldred was a tank driver and served with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
Richard Aldred was a tank driver and served with the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards -Credit:Blind Veterans UK

The portrait is also displayed in a special exhibition at the National Army Museum in London until June 9 alongside those of his fellow blind veterans who served in the Army on D-Day. It will also go on show at the new Winston Churchill Centre in Normandy, which is due to open on June 6.

Mr Aldred, who turns 100 a month after D-Day, begun to be supported by Blind Veterans UK in January this year after losing his sight due to macular degeneration. The charity helps vision-impaired ex-service men and women of every generation rebuild their lives after sight loss - including rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support.

CEO of Blind Veterans UK, Adrian Bell, said: “When talking to our veterans about their experience of D-Day, many often dismiss or trivialise as unimportant the part they played. Many say that they were no more than a small cog in a huge enterprise.

"However, when we take a step back and consider the scale and ultimate success of the operation, it could not have succeeded without such commitment from so many people playing their part. Here at Blind Veterans UK we salute them all and are proud to be here to give them the support they need to live independent and fulfilling lives after sight loss."

Read more of the veterans' D-Day stories at blindveterans.org.uk/dday80.

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