On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when thousands gather on the beaches of Normandy to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, the D-Day veteran who was at the wheel of the first armored car to enter German-occupied territory when the allies invaded on June 6, 1944, will not be there.
This particular D-Day veteran is not dead, nor has he politely declined to return to the scene of the fighting which claimed the lives of so many of his brothers in arms.
The reason D-Day veteran Jim Peaks will not be making his first return to Normandy in seven decades to stand proudly alongside fellow veterans, is because of a spelling mistake on his passport application.
You heard right. A spelling mistake! Despite being personally invited to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the 91-year-old from County Durham cannot travel to the site of the D-Day landings because he does not possess a valid passport.
And the reason D-Day veteran Jim Peaks does not possess a valid passport is because his middle name was misspelled on his initial passport application.
The D-Day veteran’s middle name is Fredrick, but on his passport application it’s spelt, ‘Frederick.’ An easy mistake for a 91-year-old to make you might think, but that extra ‘e’ has cost Mr. Peaks the opportunity to, “See somebody I knew, an old mate.”
A spokesman from a HM Passport Service said: “We will not issue passports until all necessary checks have been satisfactorily completed. If details are missing, consistencies need to be checked or further information or documentation is required, then it will take longer. We stress people should leave plenty of time and should not book travel until they have received their passport.”
Considering the circumstances and what with it being the 70th anniversary of D-Day, you’d think Her Majesty’s Government could make an exception for Jim Peaks and fulfill the great-grandfather’s wish to, “see that beach again,” and attend the official medal ceremony in Caen, France, but no, in the modern world it appears officialdom holds sway.
Were Mr. Peaks and the thousands like him required to have a valid passport for the D-Day landings of 1944 one wonders?
The D-Day veteran, who landed at Sword Beach, refuses to let the nonsensical machinations of rampant bureaucracy get him down and philosophically said, “These things happen. I was hoping to perhaps see somebody I knew, an old mate. But I wasn’t counting on it. I wanted to see the beach again. But you take these things as they come.”
Such spirit of character is not surprising from the former Desert Rat who fought in El Alamein and the invasion of Sicily before returning to England to prepare for D-Day.
Reminiscing on D-Day, Mr Peaks recalled: “You lost the fear of dying because you’d seen so much of it. You’d be talking to somebody and two or three days later he was dead. You knew you might come back and you knew you might not. It was a matter of what is to be, will be.”