A D-Day veteran was able to raise approximately £30,000 to help fund a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades and has now been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Harry Billinge, 94, while speaking to an international media outlet said that he accepted the honour not for himself, but for the 22,442 soldiers who were killed during the battle for Normandy.
He travelled from Cornwall to Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing in June to see the unveiling of the first foundation stones to remember all those who served in the British forces during the conflict.
"I did it for the boys."— Normandy Memorial Trust (@normandymtrust) December 28, 2019
D-Day Veteran Harry Billinge, who has now raised more than £30,000 for the Normandy Memorial Trust, is made an MBE in the #NewYearHonours. We are so proud of him and his remarkable commitment to honour his fallen comrades. Congratulations, Harry! pic.twitter.com/LIA33NWDVv
Billinge already holds France's highest award, the Legion d'Honneur. He reportedly landed on Gold Beach on June 6, 1944, as part of the first wave of troops and as a Royal Engineer.
He further added that he is no brave man, he is just an ordinary sapper, Royal Engineer Commando and he only did his job and didn't expect any kind of glory. He called himself lucky and said that he will never forget the men that were killed, however, he also said that it is difficult for him to talk about them.
We are so proud and delighted to announce D-Day Veteran Harry Billinge is made an MBE for services to charity in the #NewYearsHonours. This is Harry on Gold Beach where he landed 75 years ago, reading the moving poem, 'Longest Day'. #NormandyMemorial pic.twitter.com/82sp8mWBOF— Normandy Memorial Trust (@normandymtrust) December 27, 2019
While discussing the award, Billinge said that he is overwhelmed and very grateful for any kindness bestowed upon him. He further reportedly added that he is choked beyond measure and he believes he doesn't deserve the award.
He later also called the soldiers who killed on D-Day 'marvellous men'. Billinge reportedly spent many years working with various charities back in his hometown, Cornwall.
According to international media reports, Billinge was the chairman of the local branch of Normandy Veterans' Association. He was also the president of the Royal Engineers Association and collected for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal for approximately 64 years.
Apart from Billinge, others to be honoured included, Britsh-born Australian Olivia Newton-John, who became the dame for the services to cancer research, charity and entertainment. The director of two James Bond film, Sam Medes has also been knighted for contribution to drama. Olivia Colman, also from the entertainment world, has been reportedly honoured. Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith was also knighted for creating the controversial Universal Credit system.