A ninety three year old Bexhill veteran who took part in the D-Day invasion returned to the are in France last week for the 75th anniversary of the military action.
As a young man Tom Rogers was a rear gunner on one of the most iconic of planes, the Avro Lancaster, a British four-engine Second World War heavy bomber.
The Air Gunner’s tasks were complicated and hazardous and his life expectancy appallingly short – it could be as little as two weeks before a rear gunner on bomber operations could expect to be shot down or killed.
Estimates for the life expectancy for a WWII Lancaster rear gunner vary but are never high, mostly about just five sorties. Tom managed to get 27 sorties under his belt before the end of the war.
Tom was one of 300 D-Day veterans, as well as their carers and companions – who sailed from Dover to the coast of Normandy where he attended a series of commemorative events, in both England and France, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings on 6 June, 1944.
Super Star Rod Stewart sung “We are Sailing” as they cruised on out of Dover.
The Fred Olsen Cruise ship’ Boudicca set sail on one of the most poignant and moving journeys in its history on The Royal British Legion’s historic seven-night D-Day 75 Voyage of Remembrance from Dover.
The ship, chartered to Suffolk-based Arena Travel on behalf of The Royal British Legion, Boudicca’s exterior was decorated with The Royal British Legion’s recognisable red poppy insignia, most notably on the bow, stern and deckhouse.
Tom attended the national commemorative events in Portsmouth where he and other veterans where able to meet the current leaders of the nations that participated in the D DAY operation. President Trump, President Macron, Prince Charles and many other leaders joined the veterans for tea after the official event. Tom met and shook hands with prime Minister Theresa May.
The Ship then set sail for the French port of La Havre where a convoy of 14 coaches took the veterans to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Bayeux War Cemetery, where they were able to pay tribute to the soldiers that fought and died during the invasion of Normandy and the subsequent advance into France.
It was here that, once again, world leaders were able to meet and talk to the veterans personally. Back on board afterwards he was entertained by the D DAY Darlings runners up of the Britain’s Got Talent.
Tom is pictured here with Rod Stewart and Theresa May.