Island Veterans are celebrated on a national scale

By Mal Butler Jun 14, 2024
Prince William with Roy Hayward (pic: Ian Dore)

The Island’s D-Day veterans took centre stage in Portsmouth and in France, as the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord, the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare, was remembered and celebrated. One of our veterans, Roy Hayward, went on stage in Portsmouth in front of King Charles, Queen Camilla and Prince William to deliver a speech which drew huge rounds of applause.

Ian Dore, the Island’s Armed Forces Champion, attended the ceremony and afterwards got a photo of Roy with Prince William.

Ian said: “I know Roy and went to look for him afterwards. He had already chatted to the King and Queen and he was talking to Prince William as I approached.

“I asked the Prince if he would mind having his photo taken with Roy, and he kindly agreed; he was very obliging.

“The event turned out to be something historic, magical, exciting and inspiring. The noise of appreciation when Roy walked out to make his speech was deafening. Roy could be seen grinning, as immense pride washed over the clapping crowd. The whole experience was incredibly humbling.”

Roy, 99, of Seaview, lost both his legs at the age of 19, when the tank he was in was attacked in Normandy. He is a recipient of France’s highest military honour, the Legion d’Honneur.

After his royal experience, he said: “I thoroughly enjoyed every one of them, I thought they were super actually, I was most impressed by the way they chatted to me and were so friendly. They asked me how I got on and how I had my legs blown off.

“I lost both of my legs, but that’s nothing in comparison with what happened to other people and that’s always the attitude I’ve had.”

In France, veteran Alec Penstone, 98, was one of those at the statue of Field Marshal Montgomery during the Spirit of Normandy Trust service in Colleville-Montgomery.

Alec, from Shanklin, was pictured on the front page of Friday’s Daily Mirror, and served in the Royal Navy between 1942-1946, taking part in more than 10 Arctic Convoy missions.

He was then sent to the Far East, and served in Hong Kong during the Japanese surrender, and was among the first to liberate POW camps with British prisoners.