Poignant visit to Normandy

Major Roy Walker, William McConnell, Colonel Arthur Reid before laying wreaths at the Royal Ulster Rifles (Airborne) Memorial, Longueval, Normandy. William McConnell landed in Normandy in a glider aged eighteen, he is now 90 years old.
Major Roy Walker, William McConnell, Colonel Arthur Reid before laying wreaths at the Royal Ulster Rifles (Airborne) Memorial, Longueval, Normandy. William McConnell landed in Normandy in a glider aged eighteen, he is now 90 years old.
  • Tandragee man plays key role in visit
  • Trip part of 71st D-Day anniversary
  • Col Reid the official photographer
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Tandragee man Colonel Arthur Reid of the Royal Irish Regiment played a prominent role when members of the Royal Ulster Rifles, including World War Two veterans, visited Normandy for the 71st anniversary of the D-Day landings.

A uniformed military support was provided by the 2nd Battalion of the RIR, and Col Reid acted as official photographer. He also took part in the wreath-laying ceremonies.

It was wonderful to see the veterans exchanging stories

Colonel Arthur Reid

The special guests were three WW2 veterans from the Royal Ulster Rifles, all now in their 90s. William McConnell (91) landed in Normandy in a glider. One of his comrades in that daring raid was the late Major Ronnie Wilson, revered veteran from Portadown and who was the respected President of the Portadown Branch of the Royal British Legion. They were part of the Sixth Airborne Division.

Also in the party were Paddy Maguire (95), 1st Battalion RUR and Vintan Donohoe (92) 2nd Battalion RUR.

Wreaths were laid at the grave of Richhill hero John McCoo – he was just 21 when he was killed on June 13, 1941, and was in the 1st (Airborne) Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles.

During the visit, there were ceremonies at various locations, including one at the Memorial Garden Caen. The 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles was one of the first Regiments to liberate Caen in early July 1944.

The party happened to meet another D-Day veteran and his family who were there in a private capacity - Lionel Roebuck 2nd Battalion East York’s who have visited Normandy for the past 40 years. “It was wonderful to see the veterans exchanging stories,” said Colonel Reid.