Remembering a Hero: Surviving D-Day Veteran Passes Away at 100

Joe Cattini, one of Britain’s last surviving D-Day veterans, has passed away at the age of 100. He landed on the beaches of northern France as part of the invasion force that turned the tide of World War II in June 1944.

Cattini’s granddaughter, Sarah Burr, announced the news of his passing, stating that her “beloved grandad” died on Tuesday. She added that “the past nine years since D-Day 70 were some of the happiest of his life” and that sharing his war experiences with others in recent years “was so important to him.”

Cattini served as a bombardier in the 86th (Hertfordshire Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery and landed on Normandy’s Gold Beach on D-Day. In a 2019 interview with the BBC, he recalled the horrors he witnessed, saying, “I landed here on D-Day at 10am, and the beach was littered with dead, wounded, prisoners of war, and also destroyed vehicles and craft.”

Despite the trauma he experienced, Cattini rarely spoke about his war experiences. In a statement, Burr noted that “like most of his generation”, her grandfather never really talked about the war, but that “sharing it was so important to him” in recent years.

Cattini celebrated his 100th birthday in January, and he marked the occasion with a party at his retirement complex in Hampshire, where he was made an honorary citizen of Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Reflecting on his milestone birthday, Cattini said, “When you are young, you think war is a game. Something you can laugh about. War is very serious. It affects everybody.”

In an interview with The Times, Cattini recalled how he ended up landing on D-Day. He was not supposed to land in France until days after the opening invasion but was grabbed in Southampton by a sergeant major and told he was required to drive an ammunition lorry for the 1st East Yorkshire Regiment. “It was bloody rough. A lot of the boys were sick,” he said. “Some of the younger ones were crying for their mums, and NCOs and officers were going around and trying to sort them out.”

Cattini’s passing is a reminder of the sacrifices made by the Allied troops who landed on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944. The Normandy landings remain the biggest seaborne invasion in military history, and they marked the beginning of the end of World War II. As Cattini noted in his 2019 interview with the BBC, “Now it’s so peaceful and tranquil that you feel more at ease.”

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