Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Thursday, 4 June 2009 18:56 UK

D-Day bus tour veterans stranded

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Fears a driver had swine flu prompted last minute change of plans

A tour company has said it is still trying to make arrangements to get D-Day veterans from Scotland to commemorations in France this weekend.

At least three veterans had been due to travel in a party of about 18 people organised by European Battlefield Tours Limited of Glasgow.

But the firm swapped the bus it was using at the last minute because it feared the driver may have swine flu.

The replacement bus it booked then broke down.

The company said that if it could not get the veterans to Normandy by Saturday for the 65th anniversary celebrations it would try to take them later in the week to other places they had been to, following the invasion.

This is a hugely unfortunate situation for the veterans
Dharmendra Kanani
Big Lottery Fund

The firm told BBC Scotland the problems had been genuine and they were doing their best to rectify them. However, they said this would not be possible in the next few days.

Ian Lennox, of European Battlefield Tours, said: "I panicked a bit because the bus which was taking the tour had been in Dunoon and the driver became unwell. The replacement bus I booked broke down.

"I am trying to make alternative arrangements to get the veterans there by Saturday if I can, if not I will try to find out where they were in Normandy later in the week of the invasion and take them there."

Dunoon has been the centre of a large outbreak of swine flu cases in recent days.

The veterans had been awarded grants from the Lottery-backed Heroes Return 2 programme, which funds anniversary trips to the places where they saw action.

'Personal tributes'

Dharmendra Kanani, director of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: "This is a hugely unfortunate situation for the veterans.

"We understand how important it is for these brave men to return to the beaches of Normandy this weekend and we sincerely hope that they will still be able to go.

"Although the problems of losing a driver may seem minor to many, there is no doubting the major impact this has on those who wanted to pay their own personal tributes to comrades at the place where they fell."

He said the Big Lottery Fund was trying to find alternative travel arrangements for those affected, but warned: "We appreciate time is now against us."



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SEE ALSO
Normandy veterans' French return
04 Jun 09 |  Northern Ireland
Q&A: D-Day
03 Jun 09 |  Special Reports


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