The Royal British Legion is to pay for all surviving World War Two veterans from Northern Ireland to go to Normandy to pay their respects to fallen comrades.
The free-of-charge tours are being funded by LIBOR fines and will enable a WWII veteran to return to France with a family member and carer.
But, as there is no existing database of veterans from WWII who are still alive today, the Legion is calling upon the general public to spread the word and ensure every surviving veteran gets the chance to go back one last time.
The Royal British Legion has been running LIBOR funded tours for Normandy veterans for the past four years and thanks to additional LIBOR funding is now able to widen the tours to all veterans of WWII.
Nichola Rowlands, Head of Travel, Royal British Legion, said: “We have organised tours for hundreds of D-Day veterans, a family member and carer, and it has proven a very moving experience for all.
“We have been campaigning to widen the tours for all WWII veterans, as so many gave so much, and we feel that they all deserve a final tour back to lay old ghosts to rest; we’re delighted that the Treasury has made this possible.”
The tours will take place from spring to autumn and will give WWII veterans - now mostly in their 90s - the chance to meet up with fellow veterans, visit significant battlefield sites, cemeteries and memorials. The tours will be accompanied by a medic and a guide from the Royal British Legion.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond said: “I had the privilege of meeting veterans last year, and I’m delighted that we can continue to support those who want to return with the Royal British Legion to the countries where they served.
“We have committed over £5 million of Libor funds to help those who fought for our freedom, to return to pay their respects and safeguard the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Nichola Rowlands-Smith, says: “We need you! We know how great the British public can be, and we’re relying on everyone to help us spread the word to find every single living WWII veteran. There’s no database, so if you’re a grandchild, neighbour or carer and know someone who fought in WWII please tell them about these amazing tours.”
The tour will include: Overnight B&B accommodation, air, rail, ferry or executive coach travel as per the itinerary, visits to war memorials, cemeteries and significant sites, entrance fees and up to £50 per person allowance for travel to and from the tour departure point.
WWII veterans wishing to benefit from this tour need to apply via Remembrance Travel’s tour operator, Arena Travel on 01473 660800, or visit http://www.arenatravel.com/our-holidays/remembrance-travel. Remembrance Travel will also be offering group travel opportunities for WWII veteran associations too.