A D-day veteran has been awarded an MBE at the age of 94 has admitted he has not accepted the honor for himself but for the honor of the 22,442 soldiers who were killed during the battle of Normandy.
Ever since Harry Billinge retired he has raised tens of thousands for charity to help pay for the costs of building a national memorial to commemorate his fallen comrades.
Mr Billinge traveled from Cornwall, where he lives, to Normandy, to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June.
He already holds France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur and he visited the opening of the first foundation stones to remember the British forces who served in the conflict during WW2.
Mr Billinge landed on Gold Beach at 6.30am on 6 June 1944 and was a part of the first wave of troops who were dropped there to fight.
After doing what he did for his country and friends, Mr Billinge spoke about being honored with an MBE, saying: “I’m 94 and I only did what I did for the boys. I’m no brave man and I’m just an ordinary sapper, Royal Engineer Commando.
“I did my job and I didn’t want any glory. There’s no glory in war.
“Nobody should have got off the beaches at D-Day and I was lucky. I’ll never forget any of the blokes I was with – 22,442 were killed and it’s very difficult for me to talk about that.”
He added: “It’s overwhelmed me to be honest. I’m 94 and it’s a bit late in life to be recognized.
“I am very grateful for any kindness bestowed upon me. I am choked beyond measure to think I have got an MBE. I don’t deserve it.
“When I get it, it won’t be for me, it will be for the 22,442 blokes killed on D-Day. That’s what its all about. They were marvelous men, some just 16.
“What a waste of life, terrible.”
Others to be honored include British-born Australian Olivia Newton-John has been made a dame for services to cancer research, charity and entertainment.
Sam Mendes, who directed two James Bond films, as well as the upcoming, much-anticipated 1917, has been knighted for contribution to drama. Also from the world of entertainment, acclaimed actor, Olivia Colman has been honored.
Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith, who created the controversial Universal Credit system was also knighted.