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Veteran's parachute jump as D-Day heroes are honoured

An 89-year-old veteran former Para has recreated a daring parachute jump that he made 70 years ago today - D-Day - into enemy territory.

HISTORY: The events of 70 years ago were remembered.
HISTORY: The events of 70 years ago were remembered.

Jock Hutton's memorable re-enactment came as hundreds of other D-Day veterans joined in the build-up to commemorations of the anniversary of the landings that changed the course of the Second World War.

Mr Hutton, from Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, relived his experience of the invasion yesterday by dropping into the same field near Ranville, Normandy, along with 300 serving soldiers from Britain, Canada, the US and France.

Mr Hutton made the jump in tandem with a current member of the parachute display team, The Red Devils. The Scot was greeted by Prince Charles and senior military figures on touchdown yesterday. Afterward he said the jump had been poetic.

Ranville was the first Normandy village to be liberated on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Mr Hutton is one of the last D-Day veterans from the 13th Battalion the Parachute Regiment still alive and made the original jump on a moonlit night ahead of the main invasion force - aged 19.

Afterwards, still wearing his red jump suit and the Paras' burgundy beret, Mr Hutton said of the latest jump: "I was very relaxed with all my companion but I wanted to get out that door."

He said yesterday's flight had been far longer than the one 70 years ago, describing how they had disembarked the plane during the war at 500ft before their bodies smashed into the ground.

He added: "We had a task to do, that was foremost in our minds.

"You couldn't just reach the ground and sit on your backside. Our main task was to liberate Ranville, which we did before first light."

His jump was followed by a fly past of two Spitfires and a Lancaster bomber from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Twelve British troops then jumped out of a Dakota aircraft alongside hundreds more to make up the main descent.

Mr Hutton's regiment formed part of the British 6th Airborne Division and he and his comrades were spearheading the Allied assault on German-occupied Europe.

Elsewhere, parachutists jumped onto Sword Beach, the British troops' landing area that, together with Gold (also Britain), Juno (Canada), Omaha and Utah (USA) is where the D-Day landings took place from the Channel. Spectators on the south coast of England also enjoyed a Red Arrows display.

The Princess Royal was at the drumhead ceremony in Portsmouth, where the previous day in 1944 troops were amassing to invade Nazi-occupied France.

Between 2,500 and 4,000 Allied troops are thought to have died the next day. As many as 9,000 Germans are also estimated to have lost their lives when around 156,000 troops in one of the war's key turning points.

Another Scots-born D-Day veteran, Alexander Leslie, 98, recalled how he and his comrades were "shot at from all angles".

He said: "I remember our ship was loaded with American troops. They were squeezed in everywhere. The beach landings were terrible - the number of casualties was just awful."

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