A war hero who recently returned from the D-Day 70th anniversary celebrations says he is determined to pass on the legacy of remembrance to the next generation.
The Normandy Veterans’ Association (NVA), which leads annual commemorations of the Allied landings, is due to fold later this year because of dwindling numbers.
But Mervyn Kersh, a member of the Southgate Branch (75th) of the NVA, says the next generation must never forget what happened on June 6, 1944.
The 89-year-old former Private, of Ashhurst Road, Cockfosters, returned to the French coast with the NVA earlier this month for what looks to be the final time.
He said: “I felt particularly sad that this was going to be my last visit but I felt pleased that I am still able to come home from there when so many people didn’t. It was very moving, very poignant.”
Mr Kersh visited various military graves, including the famous Bayeux Cemetery, where he bumped into politicians David Cameron and Ed Miliband.
The former fabric manufacturer was also interviewed by ITV twice on his trip and said he and the other veterans received a warm reception from the French locals.
He said: “It was nice because they were asking for photographs and coming up to us everywhere. It felt good to have that recognition.”
Mr Kersh says he is due to meet with his NVA branch members soon to discuss the future of the group in the wake of the national disbandment.
And the father of three, who gives D-Day talks at schools and synagogues, admits it is upsetting to see the institution falling by the wayside.
He said: “I shall be very sorry when it goes. But I am keen to pass on the legacy – I’m hopeful the children of today will remember what happened and why.
“It was an evil. When people talk about ‘those who lost their lives’, I hate that phrase. They were murdered. People may say it is history, but it’s not history for the dead and their relatives.”