Landings veteran sees little cause to celebrate: One ex-serviceman would rather see money spent on care homes than street parties. Mary Braid and Marianne Darch report

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The Independent Online
D-DAY VETERAN Raymond Timms, 69, considers himself one of the lucky ones. A 19-year-old sailor when the allied offensive was launched, he remembers his ship dropping hundreds of commandos - laden with equipment, rifles held high - into freezing water.

Many were destined to be among the 37,000 mown down when they reached French shores. Later Mr Timms' ship brought back the wounded.

'I didn't see much of the fighting but I still remember it as being horrific. The 50th anniversary should be about remembrance, not bloody celebration.'

He feels the sacrifice of the D- Day victims means little to the nation. 'Half the people don't even know about the war. This jazzed- up party stuff is a lot of rubbish. Someone is making money out of it.'

Mr Timms believes the 50th anniversary should be a time for raising money for World War Two survivors; a time for funding projects and accommodation run by ex-servicemen's groups.

He shares a dormitory with three others at the St Vincent's home, Ryde, Isle of Wight, run by the Forces Help Society. More than pounds 250,000 has already been spent on renovating the premises, converting the dormitories into single rooms and installing a lift for disabled residents, the eldest of whom is 89.

The charity's fundraiser, Anne Finley, who is charged with raising a further pounds 600,000, shares Mr Timms' reservation about the tone of the celebrations. She believes there is something 'macabre' about staging street parties when so many ex-servicemen and families will be remembering with sadness those who died.

She does not want to get on her 'moral high horse' but believes the money earmarked for this year's events should go to places like St Vincent's, which can house 22 men and also provides some family cottages and holiday breaks for ex-servicemen.

'People are quick to beat the patriotic drum but slower to put their hands in their pockets,' Ms Finley said.

'Never mind the street parties. What about some of the money coming to rebuild homes like this for the men who participated in the Normandy landings.

'I am determined to bring St Vincent's accommodation up to 20th-century standards. The men deserve better facilities.'

(Photograph omitted)

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