A D-DAY veteran well-known for his fundraising at Par Market towards a national memorial for the fallen of the Second World War, and who even recently had a GWR high speed trap named after him, passed away this week at the age of 96.
Horace ‘Harry’ Billinge, originally from Petts Wood near Orpington in Kent but who in later life lived in St Austell, was aged 18 at the time of the 1944 Normandy landings, when he was a sapper attached to the 44 Royal Engineer Commandos. He was one of only four men of his unit to survive the storming of Gold Beach on June 6.
Forever haunted by this memory, he spent more than 60 years of his life collecting for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. becoming a regular sight at Par Market, and in 2020 was made an MBE by the Queen after personally raising more than £50,000 for the building of a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades.
For many years he also made regular pilgrimages to the war cemeteries in Normandy.Despite this, in 2019 he said in a BBC Breakfast interview: “I’m no hero - Was lucky, I’m here. All the heroes are dead and I’ll never forget them.”Paying tribute after Harry’s passing, Steve Double, MP for St Austell and Newquay, said: “Harry was a hero, plain and simple. Thank you Harry, for your service. My thoughts are with your family and all those whose lives you touched.”