D-Day hero lays wreath in memory of best friend lost in battle

D-Day veteran Alan King, from Eye, at the National Memorial Arboretum

D-Day veteran Alan King, from Eye, at the National Memorial Arboretum - Credit: Arthur Edwards

A D-Day veteran was deprived of his annual pilgrimage to Normandy - but made up for it by joining a commemoration in the UK.

Alan King, from Eye, served in the East Riding Yeomanry during the Second World and was assigned as a radio operator to a Sherman tank crew.

D-Day veteran Alan King, from Eye, with family and friends at the National Memorial Arboretum 

D-Day veteran Alan King, from Eye, with family and friends at the National Memorial Arboretum - Credit: Arthur Edwards

He landed on D-Day at Lion-sur-Mer several hours ahead of his regiment, before taking part in several intense battles.

Every year, Mr King travels to France to visit the grave of his best friend, tank commander Corporal Louis Wilkes, who was killed in July 1944.

But the 97-year-old, now president of the Royal British Legion's Stradbroke and District Branch, could not do so this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

D-Day veteran Alan King, from Eye, laying a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum

D-Day veteran Alan King, from Eye, laying a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum alongside Cpl Louis Wilkes' grandchildren Kevin and Sonya - Credit: Joyce Cooper


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He was, however, able to attend a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where he was joined by two of Cpl Wilkes' grandchildren.

They laid a wreath and watched a live stream of the opening of the new memorial at Ver-sur-Mer, on which Cpl Wilkes' name is inscribed.

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