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D-Day veteran completes first high-level skydive since Normandy in June 1944

Press Association logoPress Association 14/09/2018 By Claire Hayhurst, Press Association
D-Day veteran Harry Read, 94, holds onto parachuting test straps at Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury, Wiltshire, where he is taking part in his first high level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy on 6 June 1944 (Ben Birchall/PA) © Provided by The Press Association D-Day veteran Harry Read, 94, holds onto parachuting test straps at Old Sarum Airfield, Salisbury, Wiltshire, where he is taking part in his first high level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy on 6 June 1944 (Ben Birchall/PA)

A D-Day veteran has taken part in his first high-level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy 74 years ago.

Harry Read, 94, jumped 10,000 feet after taking to the skies from Old Sarum airfield in Salisbury, Wiltshire, on Friday.

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During the Second World War, Mr Read was a 20-year-old wireless operator and part of the Parachute Brigade landing in Normandy on June 6 1944.

Harry Read is raising money for the Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery work in the UK. © Press Association Harry Read is raising money for the Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery work in the UK. To avoid attack during war time, parachuting would take place as close to the ground as possible.

“On that morning at 00.50 hours I parachuted into Normandy and 30 seconds later I was on the ground,” Mr Read said.

“It was a very different experience to the one I just had.

“This was my first high-level skydive and whilst I was a little nervous I have always enjoyed the thrill of parachuting.

Harry Read is raising money for the Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery work in the UK. © Press Association Harry Read is raising money for the Salvation Army’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery work in the UK. “It was amazing to experience the freefall and then cruising down was simply beautiful.

“I feel so lucky to have been able to experience this at my age.

“Before I could take part in the jump my doctor assured me my heart is as healthy as a middle aged man.”

Mr Read had previously seen other veterans taking part in skydives.

He decided to complete one himself after visiting the Normandy battlefields on an anniversary tour earlier this year.

D-Day veteran completes first high-level skydive since Normandy in June 1944 © Press Association D-Day veteran completes first high-level skydive since Normandy in June 1944 His granddaughters Lianne, 37, Joanna, 39, and his great-grandson Josh, 23, also took part in the skydive.

Mr Read is a life-long member of the Salvation Army and undertook the jump to raise money for the charity’s anti-trafficking and modern slavery work in the UK.

He has raised more than £4,000 so far and plans to jump again next year in Normandy, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

“At whatever age we are, we are more than capable of shrinking from something that we feel is beyond us,” Mr Read said.

D-Day veteran completes first high-level skydive since Normandy in June 1944 © Press Association D-Day veteran completes first high-level skydive since Normandy in June 1944 “But, I believe we should not withdraw from a challenge – yesterday is not our best, our best is tomorrow.”

In 2016, Mr Read was awarded France’s highest honour, the Chevalier, by order of the Legion d’Honneur for the role he played in June 1944.

His JustGiving page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harry-read.

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