D-Day 70th anniversary: Veteran, 89, to recreate Normandy parachute jump

Jock Hutton was part of the Allied assault on German-occupied Europe

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The Independent Online

On 6 June 1944, 19-year-old Jock Hutton parachuted into a wheat field in Normandy.

And now, 70 years later, the 89-year-old Second World War veteran is to recreate the jump to mark the anniversary of D-Day.

The Scotsman will take part in a tandem jump with one of the Red Devils during the drop at Ranville – to land in that very same field that he touched down in as a member of the 13th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment, part of the British 6th Airborne Division.

Mr Hutton will be among hundreds of D-Day veterans who are in Normandy for a series of events marking the 70th anniversary of the greatest military invasion in history.

A huge security operation has swung into operation as 17 heads of state, including the Queen, prepare to arrive in northern France.

More than 650 ex-servicemen are said to have travelled to commemorate the invasion which changed history.

The commemorative parachute drop by British, American, French and Canadian troops will be witnessed by Prince Charles, the colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment.

But this second jump is set to be a far different experience for Mr Hutton.

“[It] should be cushy,” Mr Hutton told The Telegraph.

“All I have to do is put my feet up.”

On that day in 1944, most of the 13th Battalion landed as planned near the Orne river, where it was their job to seize and destroy bridges to prevent a counter-attack by the Germans.

“We thought we could handle anything – we were all jacked up,” Mr Hutton told The Telegraph.

“I must say that I felt in command of the situation. On landing, I thought, ‘This is great’. The battalion CO had a good idea and took his hunting horn with him to signal where we should gather. You could hear it above the sound of the battle.”

Mr Hutton was wounded by shrapnel to the stomach two and a half weeks later and evacuated to a hospital near Stoke - that piece of metal still remains in his body decades later.

“To this day I can still feel it,” he said.

“It comes to the surface and then goes away. I’ve had it for 70 years. My wee friend!”

Mr Hutton is now a grandfather, but his friends are dead so he will be “on my own” at this year's D Day memorial.

“But I’m happy,” he said. “I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a different life.”