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Lochaber veterans who served in Britain’s armed forces during the Second World War are now eligible for free tours of their former battlefields.
The travel arm of the Royal British Legion (RBL) is on a mission to find all surviving veterans of WWII so those able can return to where they served to pay their respects to fallen comrades.
The tours are being funded by LIBOR banking industry fines and will enable a WWII veteran to return with a family member and carer.
The Royal British Legion has been running LIBOR-funded tours for Normandy veterans for the past four years and thanks to additional LIBOR funding can now widen the tours to all veterans of WWII – including those who served in North Africa and the Far East.
Kevin Lane, chairman of the Fort William and District branch of Legion Scotland, told the Lochaber Times: ‘It is a fantastic offer and I hope as many WWII veterans as possible from Lochaber take advantage of it to pay homage to their fallen comrades.’
Nichola Rowlands-Smith, head of travel for the Royal British Legion, explained: ‘We have organised tours for hundreds of D-Day veterans, a family member and carer and it has proven a very moving experience.
‘We have been campaigning to widen the tours for all WWII veterans, as so many gave so much, and we feel they all deserve a final tour back to lay old ghosts to rest. We’re delighted the treasury has made this possible.’
The tours will take place from spring to autumn and will give the veterans – now mostly in their 90s – the chance to meet up at significant battlefield sites, cemeteries and memorials.
A medic and a guide from the Royal British Legion will accompany the tours.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond said: ‘We have committed more than £5 million of Libor funds to help those who fought for our freedom, to return to pay their respects and safeguard the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.’
Unfortunately, there is no database of veterans from WWII who are still alive so the Royal British Legion is calling on the public to spread the word to surviving veterans.
Ms Rowlands-Smith added: ‘There’s no database, so if you’re a grandchild, neighbour or carer who knows someone who fought in WWII please tell them about these amazing tours.’
Veterans wishing to go on the tours need to apply via Remembrance Travel’s tour operator Arena Travel on 01473 660800 or via www.arenatravel.com/our -holidays/remembrance-travel.