Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Tuesday, 26 May 2009 15:36 UK

Injured troops meet D-Day veteran

2008 Help for Heroes bike ride
The inaugural Help for Heroes bike ride raised 1.4m last year

A World War II veteran has returned to France's Normandy beaches 65 years after D-Day to meet injured troops cycling in a 350-mile charity ride.

John Painter, 84, landed at Arromanches in 1944 as a 19-year-old, along with other British troops fighting for the liberation of Normandy.

The retired deputy headmaster from York revisited the beach on Tuesday.

He met injured troops taking part in a bike ride across France in aid of the forces' charity Help for Heroes.

The injured troops are among 240 cyclists who set off from Portsmouth on Sunday to pedal 350 miles (563km) across France, taking in some of the major WWII battle sites on the way.

The troops were injured while serving in the armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is nice to speak to our servicemen here - soldiers all understand each other
John Painter

Mr Painter said being back on Normandy beach brought back the sense of overwhelming tiredness experienced by allied troops.

The father of three first stood on the beach at Arromanches in mid-July 1944, having arrived as reinforcement for the 12th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps.

Five months later, following the armoured advance through France, Belgium and Holland, the veteran was wounded by seven bullets outside Luenen, a village in Holland, during a clash with a German patrol.

He was left with two broken legs and bullets in his stomach.

The short ceremony on Tuesday was watched by the group of 240 fundraising cyclists on the third day of their ride across France.

As the uncle of Bryn Parry, co-founder of Help for Heroes (H4H), Mr Painter came to France to support the charity's bike ride.

He said: "It is nice to speak to our servicemen here - soldiers all understand each other, they can talk to each other very easily.

"There will always be a connection."

The cyclists are expected to reach Paris on Friday, as part of a bid to raise more than £1.4m for the charity.

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