WWII veteran and Salvation Army commissioner, 95, skydives into Normandy to remember D-Day

Harry Read preparing for his test jump in 2018(Photo: The Salvation Army)

A Salvation Army Commissioner who first parachuted into Normandy 75 years ago for D-Day was today jumping again over the site of that historic invasion in memory of his fallen comrades.

Harry Read, 95, was skydiving on Wednesday into Sannerville, Normandy, with the Red Devils as part of the commemorations to mark the 75th annivesary of D-Day. 

He parachuted into Normandy on 6 June 1944 at just 20 years of age.  During World War Two, he was a wireless operator and served with the Parachute Brigade. 

He recalls jumping at exactly 00:50 hours and landing on the ground just 30 seconds later. 

That was the last time he parachuted until last year when he took part in a practice jump at the Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury as part of his preparations for today's charity skydive.

Despite his age, he was inspired to do the jump after visiting the Normandy battlefields during an anniversary tour last year. 

"My doctor has assured me my heart is as healthy as a middle aged man," he said after last year's practice jump. 

"At whatever age we are, we are more than capable of shrinking from something that we feel is beyond us. But, I believe we should not withdraw from a challenge – yesterday is not our best, our best is tomorrow."

Harry Read at 19

Harry's bravery was recognised when, in 2016, he was awarded France's highest honour, the Chevalier, by order of the Légion d'Honneur for the role he played in the country's liberation from the Nazis in June 1944.

He is a lifelong member of The Salvation Army, having previously served as the leader of The Salvation Army in both the UK and East Australia, and as Chief Secretary at The Salvation Army in Canada.

Today's jump has raised over £15,000, which will go towards The Salvation Army's Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit and its Victim Care Fund, both of which help to support victims of modern slavery.

Harry recently told the Press Association that as he made the jump, he would be thinking of his brothers in arms who never made it home.

"I will enjoy the jump," he said.

"There are very real and definite pleasures in parachuting. It might be a little bit tricky, but I'm willing to have a go.

"But also in my heart I will be thinking of my mates. I get very moved when I think about them.

"I have lived one of the most fulfilled lives that it's possible for a person to live and they haven't. I will stand in that cemetery and I will be speechless and I'll weep."

To support Harry's skydive, visit his JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harry-read