Chorley D-Day veteran's special meeting with royalty at 75th anniversary event

A Chorley D-Day veteran entertained Prince William with a witty song at an 'amazing' anniversary dinner.

Monday, 10th June 2019, 3:44 pm
Updated Monday, 10th June 2019, 4:44 pm
John Dowling entertains the Duke of Cambridge with a ditty about the Royal Marines.
John Dowling entertains the Duke of Cambridge with a ditty about the Royal Marines.

John Dowling, a former Royal Marine who now lives in Buckshaw Retirement Village, met the Duke of Cambridge during a Royal British Legion-supported trip at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire last Thursday.

The event was organised to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Maggie Harrison, John's daughter, said: "There were three other veterans on my dad's table, each with an empty seat next to them, so Prince William sat and spoke to each of them in turn.

John Dowling playing the harmonica. (s)

"I couldn't get over how gentle, kind and patient he was; and Dad made him laugh with his ditty about the Royal Marines.

"The song goes, 'The pride of the Queen, the backbone of the army, the brain of the navy, afraid of no-one...except the wife.'

"Prince William absolutely laughed."

The moving day began with an open air service, before the Royal gave a speech and joined the veterans in laying wreaths, followed by the dinner.

Chorley D-Day veteran John Dowling meeting Prince William. Photo credit: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images.

"We met some real good characters. It was quite amazing," Maggie added.

"It was a relaxed day but quite emotional."

John (98) was given a 75th anniversary badge and cross to go with his D-Day medals.

Nicknamed "Chippy" by his comrades, the veteran was 23 years old when he arrived at Gold Beach at Val Sur Mer in Normandy on June 7 in the second wave of the landings following D-Day. He worked as a signaller using both flags and Morse Code to receive messages from the British Army, after graduating from the Royal Marine School of Signals.

John graduated from the Royal Marine School of Signals.

"Dad was pleased to be at the anniversary event but he doesn't get what all the fuss is about. He just thinks they had a job to do and they got on with it," Maggie said.

"It was a special day and the work the Royal British Legion does to support veterans is much appreciated."

John with his niece Shona Beard (left) and his daughter Maggie Harrison.
John with his wife Isobel.