Return to the battlefields

SECOND World War veterans can sign up for a multi-million pound lottery scheme to re-visit the battlefields where they saw active service.The £10 million Heroes Return scheme will allow veterans to journey overseas to commemorate the battles they fought and the comrades they lost during the momentous events 60 years ago that led to the end of the war.

SECOND World War veterans can sign up for a multi-million pound lottery scheme to re-visit the battlefields where they saw active service.

The £10 million Heroes Return scheme will allow veterans to journey overseas to commemorate the battles they fought and the comrades they lost during the momentous events 60 years ago that led to the end of the war.

Ron Shawler, 85, a D-Day veteran who lives in Tattingstone, said: "It is quite good for anybody who wants to go and I think a lot of people would enjoy going.

"For myself I am a bit doubtful as it would bring back a lot of painful memories. I might consider it. A lot of people would probably go there and get something out of their minds that they have been worrying about for the last 60 years."


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He added the project would offer fellow D-Day veterans a chance to return to the Normandy beaches, where they fought nearly 60 years ago, not only to honour their fallen comrades but also the French people that were killed.

Representatives from all over the UK met today in the bunker of the Cabinet War Rooms in London for the launch of the scheme. This is the same bunker where 60 years ago Churchill oversaw the deployment of Allied forces which finally led to victory and peace.

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Among those taking part were former members of the wartime forces from Chelsea Royal Hospital and veterans associations together with Lottery Minister Rt Hon Estelle Morris MP , Minister for Veterans Ivor Caplin MP and Baroness Jill Pitkeathley , chairwoman of the New Opportunities Fund which finances the scheme in partnership with the Confederation of British Service and Ex-Service Organisations.

Lilian Prodromou, spokeswoman for the New Opportunities Fund, said: "The scheme is for veterans who saw service overseas. They can apply for funding for trips this year and next year. There are four different stages of funding covering different areas of the world and will also include funding for carers and spouses.

"We are basically saying through the life of the programme we will not turn anyone down providing they are eligible to go."

Heroes Return has developed a three-pronged programme involving those who served at home and overseas during World War Two, so new generations can learn from their experiences.

Major General Michael Shellard, CBE, chairman of COBSEO, said: "Heroes Return offers a wonderful opportunity for veterans of the Second World War, including widows, to revisit the scenes of their experiences during the conflict.

"The 60th anniversary of these events will probably be the last chance for many to commemorate a significant era in their lives."

Through the Heroes Return scheme, veterans will be able to link up with schools so today's young people can learn from their first hand experiences of the war. The veterans free hotline for heroes return funding is 0800 169 2277.

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