D-Day war veteran Harry Billinge's funeral to be held in Cornwall

His wake will be hosted by the St Austell Brewery - who are creating a new beer in his memory

People are being invited to celebrate D-Day veteran Harry Billinge at his public funeral today (26 April).

Horace Billinge - known as Harry - died at the beginning of the month aged 96 after a short illness.

The former Royal Engineer was just 18 years old when he was one of the first British soldiers to land on Gold Beach on June 6, 1944.

He said the hell he went through that day never left him, and so he dedicated the rest of his life to ensuring the sacrifices of his comrades would never be forgotten.

He was a well-known face around St Austell and was regularly seen fundraising.

The D-Day Veteran's public funeral will be held tomorrow (Tuesday 26 April) at 11am in St Paul's Church in Charlestown, followed by a cremation for his immediate family.

Harry Billinge fundraising in St Austell High Street in Cornwall Credit: Normandy Memorial Trust/PA

Mr Billinge is survived by his wife Sheila, daughters Sally and Margot, son Christopher and granddaughters Amy and Claire.

Mr and Mrs Billinge were married for 67 years and were due to celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary in August.

His family say donations to the Normandy Memorial Trust will be welcomed, in keeping with Harry's fundraising spirit.

The route Harry's funeral procession will take

  • 10.10am: The funeral procession will leave PCF Home in Mount Charles Road and travel along Victoria Road, Alexandra Road, East Hill, South Street, Trinity Street and through Fore Street

  • 10.30am: The funeral procession will pass the War Memorial Cross at Holy Trinity Church before going to High Cross Street, Tregonissey Road and Slades Road.

  • 10.40am: The funeral party will then leave Harry's home at 10.40am before continuing along Slades Road, Clifden Road, Holmbush Arch Road and into Church Road, Charlestown.

There will be a broadcast outside the church at the nearby church hall for members of the public to listen to the service. 

He fundraised for various charities for almost 70 years.

Mourners are being invited to pay tribute to Harry at his wake, which is being held by the St Austell Brewery at its visitors centre on Trevarthian Road between 1pm and 11pm.

The brewery is serving a special beer in his honour. 'Sapper Harry' will be served at the wake.

Harry raised thousands of pounds during his lifetime and achieved his lifelong dream of seeing the creation of a D-Day memorial just last year saying he would continue to "tell that story until the day [he] dies".

For 64 years, Harry raised money for the Royal British Legion but, in 2018, he turned his support to The Normandy Memorial Trust.

The former Royal Engineer was awarded an MBE in 2020 after collecting more than £50,000 towards a memorial for the 22,442 service personnel killed on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy.

His family are now urging those wishing to pay their respects to become guardians of the British Normandy Memorial.