D-Day hero Norman caps memorable day as his old unit replaces lost beret
A 96-year-old veteran who survived the horrors of D-Day and witnessed the Second World War across Europe has been presented with a new beret and badge.
Norman Dickson, who is originally from Comber, Co Down, was devastated when he mislaid his original Royal Engineers cap and insignia. But after a visit to see the Army Reserve Engineers at their base in Bangor, he said their replacement "made me feel free again".
"Now I am able to salute again, properly, it's so wonderful," he said.
Norman witnessed the loss of many of his friends during the war, and still bears the scars of being bitten by mice as he huddled for shelter while troops fought their way through enemy lines.
"There's a freedom this means to me. It's not easy to tell but the worry over what happened to my old beret and badge was heavy. Now it's all been lifted," he said.
Norman and his comrades underwent initial training at Ballykinler Camp in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains, and then he was sent to England to complete his education in handling high explosives.
On D-Day he was in Boat 51 carrying munitions and explosives to the Normandy beaches.
He said there was no time to feel fear. "We were told what was to be done and where we had to go," he recalled. "We just went - it was as simple as that."
As well as his new beret and badge, Norman also proudly holds the War Medal, the France and Germany Star and the 1939-45 Star, alongside the Legion of Honour Medal. It was at Armed Forces Day in Northern Ireland when his daughter Carol Davidson told the Sappers from Bangor about her father's exploits and his lost beret and badge. He was immediately invited to their open day at Bangor Army Reserve Centre and plans were put in place for his special surprise.