WW2 veterans need your help as French hotels full for D-Day events

Can you provide suitable accommodation near the landing beaches?

A jeep takes part in a D-Day parade
A previous D-Day commemoration in Normandy

Several World War Two veterans are currently unable to come to Normandy for the 80th anniversary commemorations of D-Day in June as all the hotels are full.

The Taxi Charity, which takes veterans to France in London cabs for free, said higher prices and lack of space mean not all veterans who want to can travel.

Six million people are expected to visit Normandy this year for trips linked to the battle – including presidents Biden and Macron, King Charles and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak – leading to a shortage of rooms and higher prices.

Can you help with accommodation?

The Connexion is asking if any readers living in the area can help to accommodate these veterans.

The then-chairman of the charity Brian Hef­fernan said in a blog in February: “The price of hotel rooms for the week of D-Day have sky-rocketed and, even at these exorbitant prices, there is little or no availability.

“Unfortunately, this means we won’t be able to take everyone with us that we would have liked to.”

Veterans’ trips, including travel, food and hotel bills, are paid for by donations to the charity.

'Everything was booked up'

Only 12 UK veterans, plus close family, medical staff and the drivers, are currently expected to be coming with the charity, compared to the 30 who came in 2019 for the 75th anniversary. The charity’s honorary secretary, Dick Goodwin, said visiting veteran numbers have been reduced due to ill health and death from old age.

Even so, he said: “We would like to take more people but although we booked 10 months ago, we got the last 30 remaining rooms the hotel had.”

Prices were one issue, he said, with hotels costing around €350 a night, but also “everything was simply booked up”.

He said: “We’re creating a reserve list where, say, if a veteran has to go into hospital, we will offer to bring them later if they still want to revisit the places where they fought, and we’ll take another veteran and carer instead to June’s commemoration.”

Read more: Normandy prepares for last major D-Day commemorations

He said around half a dozen people are on the reserve list and offers of accommodation could help. It would have to be near commemoration sites and preferably allow access without stairs. The veterans are, notably, expected to be at Ranville on June 5 and Vers-sur-Mer on June 6.

'Their numbers are dwindling'

Younger British veteran and amateur historian Ben Mead, 44, who helps with trips, said: “The average age is now 99 or 100, so their numbers are dwindling. This may be their last pilgrimage to the beaches. D-Day was the start of the liberation of Europe. If it hadn’t happened, who knows what world civilization would be like today.”

Sadly, D-Day veteran Bill Gladden from Suffolk, who hoped to come with the charity, died on April 24, aged 100, shortly after telling us of his plans to come to honour his British and French brothers in arms.

Read more: British D-Day veteran Bill: I want to honour fallen comrades in France

Any readers able to offer suitable accommodation can email us via news@connexionfrance.com.

Mr Goodwin said donations are also welcome, with the charity already having to book a less comfortable hotel than usual. Donations would help with catering and drinks. Badges and T-shirts are also on sale.