COLLABORATION between BAE Systems, Central Lancashire Armed Forces Veterans Association and the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans enabled two WWII veterans to fly from Lancashire to Normandy on 6 June.
WWII Veterans Ken Benbow who served with the Royal Navy on HMS Crane and Stuart Taylor who served with the RAF as a Dakota pilot were flown from Warton Aerodrome to Caen in Normandy on the afternoon of the 79th anniversary of D-Day.
As well as the veterans the special flight carried David Waters, Central Lancashire Armed Forces Veterans Association and David Holmes and Rachael Gordon from BAE Systems. When it landed at Caen Carpiquet Airport the flight was met on the tarmac by Brian Heffernan and Simon Hawes from the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans who drove the passengers to the British Normandy Memorial with the help of a team of outriders. At the Memorial Ken and Stuart shared a few words with Ben Wallace, the British Minister of Defence, who also happened to be Ken’s MP.
David Waters, Colonel (Retd), Central Lancashire Armed Forces Veterans Association, said:
“It’s a simple fact that without BAE Systems intervening in such a timely fashion, our two veterans would not have been able to attend this prestigious occasion. The Taxi Charity provided an additional key piece in the logistic jigsaw that made the transport plan appear seamless and effortless and left our veterans in no doubt that they are precious and valuable national treasures; they represented themselves, the traditions of our armed forces and the nation in general and we can all be very proud they were able to do that. Well done BAE and well done to the Taxi Charity.”
Rachael Gordon, Director of External Communications BAE Systems Air said:
“We recognise it is such an important time for the veterans and relatives of the fallen to gather together – and for all of us – to give thanks to the Allied servicemen and women who gave their lives in the D-Day landings and in the Normandy Campaign. It’s a pleasure to have been able to play a role in making sure that veterans Ken and Stewart could attend the 79th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.”
Brian Heffernan, Chairman of the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said:
“When we first learned of the ambitious plans to fly Ken and Stuart to Normandy on D-Day, we immediately offered our help. The Taxi Charity has been supporting veterans for 75 years, usually taking veterans to Normandy for the commemorations from their homes in our cabs. To see the flight coming into Carpiquet and taxiing to a stand adjacent to the aircraft that President Macron and Ben Wallace, the British Minister of Defence had used that day was an emotional moment. Ken and Ben were justly treated like VIP’s and we were thrilled to be part of this project to allow the veterans to participate in this important event.”