After his tragic death at the age of 97, a D-Day paratrooper hero who participated in the Battle of Normandy has received a poignant farewell.

Harry Read, just twenty-years old at the time of his landing from a Dakota plane in the wee hours of June 6, 1944, was behind enemy lines.

He jumped through a flood of enemy shells and gunfire to watch from above as another Allied aircraft crashed into a mass of flames and killed all onboard.

Poor navigation led to many paratroopers, like Mr Read landing in flood fields. 

Others were then taken down by heavy equipment and submerged.

The 6th Airborne Division included Mr. Read as a Royal Corps of Signals mobile operator.

This regiment was responsible for seizing the Pegasus Bridge and holding it on D-Day.

Because it allowed thousands of soldiers to land at Sword Beach, the bridge was crucial to the Normandy invasion’s success.

He set up wireless communication near the bridge, which helped to stop reinforcements and Panzer tanks from reaching the area over the following days and weeks. 

Paratrooper Harry Read took part in the D-Day landings

Mr Read during the war

An emotional farewell was paid to the D-Day paratrooper, who died at 97. Harry Read was only 20 years old when he was dropped behind enemy line from a Dakota plane in the early hours on June 6, 1944. Above: Read poses with his medals (including France’s Legion D’Honneur) and during the war.

In 2016, the French government awarded Mr. Read the Legion D’Honneur for his part in liberating Germany from the Nazis.

Three-generation great-grandfather, who performed a charity tandem skydive at 10,000 feet with Red Devils Display Team to commemorate the 75th anniversary D-Day in 2019, died in his Bournemouth home, Dorset, following a brief illness.

On Monday, Bournemouth Crematorium was visited by dozens of relatives, friends, members of the Parachute Regimental Association, and Salvation Army.

John Reed (70), a former Salvation Army Commissioner, stated that his father was extremely proud of his family. He took great joy in every one, from the oldest to youngest.

“We loved him deeply and were proud of all his accomplishments.

“Most importantly, we are proud of the fact that he was dedicated to serving others.

“As a young man, this was his motivation while he served as a paratrooper in Normandy.

Dozens of family members, friends, Parachute Regimental Association and Salvation Army members gathered to pay their respects at Bournemouth Crematorium on Monday. Above: Members of the Salvation Army next to Mr Read's coffin

More than a dozen family and friends joined the Bournemouth Crematorium Monday to offer their condolences. Above: Salvation Army Members next to Mr Reads coffin

During D-Day, Mr Read (pictured centre with his comrades) jumped through a torrent of enemy shell and gunfire and looked on from above as another Allied plane crashed into a ball of flames, killing all the men on board

During D-Day, Mr Read (pictured centre with his comrades) jumped through a torrent of enemy shell and gunfire and looked on from above as another Allied plane crashed into a ball of flames, killing all the men on board

“It was evident throughout his service as Salvation Army Officer, and it was what motivated him when he went back to the sky to fly again at 95.

Following his award of the Legion D’Honneur to Mr Read, Mr Read recounted the D-Day experience. “In that first hour D-Day, our Dakota aircraft was taking us steadily towards the French Coast, inexorably, and we were able to see the French coastline. We stood at the front line ready for the jump, upon the order of the commander.

“As we did this, we flew into one of the most spectacular fireworks displays imaginable. Except that they weren’t fireworks, but tracer bullets and shells.

It was not easy to keep our feet dry in such a fast-moving plane. But the red warning lights were on and then there was the green. We shuffled down the aircraft to the exit and, with the help of a dispatcher, we took off into the darkness to see what was in store.

We were on-time, however, upon landing we discovered that our location was not correct. The area had been deliberately flood to make paratroopers’ lives difficult.

“Many of our soldiers drowned there. But for the survivors, we had to deal with the dangers of connecting with our units.

“It was difficult but it all made up for the liberation of France first… then one after another of other conquered countries.”

Two years after the war ended Mr Read left the British Army to join the Salvation Army. Above: The war hero in his Salvation Army Uniform

Mr Read was awarded the prestigious Legion D'Honneur (above) in 2016 by the French government for his role in liberating the country from the Nazis

Read joined the Salvation Army in the two years following the end of World War II. In 2016, the French government awarded Mr Read the Legion D’Honneur for his contribution to liberating France from Nazis. Above: Read, in Salvation Army uniform and holding the Legion D’Honneur

The 6th Airborne Division remained stationary for the next two-months, holding the bridgehead left flank and engaging in vigorous patrolling.

They advanced on August 16 against strong German resistance until they reached their objective at the mouth the River Seine, where they fought for nine days to reach it.

After the end the month, the division was taken from the frontline. Mr Read returned to England September 7.

After the war was over, Mr. Read resigned from the British Army and joined the Salvation Army two years later.

He was a tireless worker for charity all his life and reached the rank of Commissioner, which is the highest possible position among officers in the organization.

John and Margaret were his children with Winifred. He also had four grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, and three great great grandchildren. 

The great-great grandfather of three, who did a 10,000ft charity tandem skydive with the Red Devils Display Team in 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, died last month at his home after a short illness in Bournemouth, Dorset

After a brief illness, the great-great-grandfather of three died at home last month.

Mr Read had two children, John and Margaret, with wife Winifred, who died in 2007, as well as four grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. Above: Pallbearers wait to receive the veteran's coffin

Mr Read had two children, John and Margaret, with wife Winifred, who died in 2007, as well as four grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren. Above: Veteran’s coffin is being delivered to pallbearers

Members of the armed forces carry Mr Read's coffin into Bournemouth Crematorium on Monday

On Monday, members of the Armed Forces carried Mr Read’s coffin to Bournemouth Crematorium.

His son John Reed, 70, a retired Salvation Army commissioner, said: 'Harry was immensely proud of his family and took great delight in each one of them from the oldest to the youngest'

John Reed, his 70-year-old son and retired Salvation Army commissary, said that Harry was proud of his family. He enjoyed taking great joy in all of them, even the youngest.

Soldiers at Mr Read's funeral. Members of the public also paid their respects to Mr Read on social media

Soldiers attended the funeral of Mr. Read. On social media, members of the general public paid respects to Mr Read.

Mr Read's coffin was carried into Bournemouth Crematorium before a service in which family members and comrades paid tribute

Military trumpeters are seen playing their instruments at the funeral

After the funeral service at Bournemouth Crematorium, the coffin of Mr Read was taken into Bournemouth Crematorium. Right: At the funeral, military trumpeters can be seen performing their instrument.

We also pay tribute to Corporal Mike French who was Harry’s parachuting partner and co-pilot with the Red Devils. He said, “We are quite close as airborne brothers so to be able to say goodbye one of our brothers, is always very precious to us.” 

Matthew Horan was a Signalman in the Royal Corps of Signals. He added that Harry, who jumped in with radios during the Normandy landings, would have allowed those behind enemy lines communication and enabled the landings.

“It’s amazing that we can pay our respects. He was a true character, and a humble man.

Chief of the Salvation Army is Commissioner Anthony Cotterill. He said that the Salvation Army has been enhanced beyond all words through the extraordinary work of Commissioner Harry Read.

“A brave, caring, and innovative leader who challenged everyone to be bold and do bigger things for Jesus Christ.

“His poetry and song legacy is an inspiration treasure trove that will help us all in the future.

A number of members from the public offered their condolences on social media to Mr Read.

Denise Anne Tams stated: “God bless Sir.” Rest in peace.

William Phillips stated: ‘Riphero safe landing on you last.

Harry was killed on December 15.

D-Day: Churchill described the invasion of Europe in its largest and most complex military operation as the “most difficult” and “most difficult” in human history.

Operation Overlord was the result of 156,000 Allied soldiers landing in Normandy, June 6, 1944.

As many as 4,400 people were believed to have died in the attack Winston Churchill described at his funeral as “undoubtedly one of the most complex and difficult” ever.

Two phases were used in the assault: an aerial landing of 24,000 British and American airborne troops just after midnight and then an amphibious landing on France’s coast of Allied infantry, armoured and other divisions at 6.30am.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. 

With over 160,000 soldiers landing, this was the biggest amphibious invasion ever recorded in history. There were over 195,700 Allied merchant and naval navy personnel on more than 5,000 ships. 

US Army troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Normandy's 'Omaha' Beach on D-Day in Colleville Sur-Mer, France June 6 1944. As infantry disembarked from the landing craft, they often found themselves on sandbars 50 to 100 yards away from the beach. To reach the beach they had to wade through water sometimes neck deep

US Army troops in an LCVP land craft approached Normandy’s Omaha’ beach on D-Day, Colleville Sur-Mer (France), 6 June 1944. The landing craft was often abandoned by the infantry, which found itself on sandbars about 50-100 yards from the beach. The infantry had to cross water up to reach the beach, which was sometimes neck-deep.

US Army troops and crewmen aboard a Coast Guard manned LCVP approach a beach on D-Day. After the initial landing soldiers found the original plan was in tatters, with so many units mis-landed, disorganized and scattered. Most commanders had fallen or were absent, and there were few ways to communicate

US Army personnel and Coast Guard troops manned LCVP as they approached a beach on D-Day. Soldiers discovered that the original plan was in chaos after the landing. There were many unorganized units and disorganized units. There were very few communication channels and most commanders were dead.

A LCVP landing craft from the U.S. Coast Guard attack transport USS Samuel Chase approaches Omaha Beach. The objective was for the beach defences to be cleared within two hours of the initial landing. But stubborn German defence delayed efforts to take the beach and led to significant delays

An LCVP landing craft of the U.S. Coast Guard attack ship USS Samuel Chase nears Omaha Beach. The goal was to clear the beach defenses within just two hours from the first landing. However, stubborn German defenses impeded efforts to capture the beach and caused significant delays 

An LCM landing craft manned by the U.S. Coast Guard, evacuating U.S. casualties from the invasion beaches, brings them to a transport for treatment. An accurate figure for casualties incurred by V Corps at Omaha on 6 June is not known; sources vary between 2,000 and over 5,000 killed, wounded, and missing

A U.S. Coast Guard LCM landing craft transports casualties to an ambulance. It is difficult to determine the exact number of casualties suffered by V Corps at Omaha, 6 June. Sources vary from 2,000 to over 5,000.

With over 160,000 soldiers landing, this was the biggest amphibious invasion ever recorded in history. There were over 195,700 Allied merchant and naval navy personnel on more than 5,000 ships.

These landings occurred along the Normandy coast for 50 miles, which was divided into five segments: Utah (Omaha), Gold, Juno, and Sword).

There was chaos as boats arrived at the wrong place and some others got into trouble.

Destruction in the northern French town of Carentan after the invasion in June 1944

Following the invasion in June 1944, destruction in Carentan (northern France)

Forward 14/45 guns of the US Navy battleship USS Nevada fire on positions ashore during the D-Day landings on Utah Beach. The only artillery support for the troops making these tentative advances was from the navy. Finding targets difficult to spot, and in fear of hitting their own troops, the big guns of the battleships and cruisers concentrated fire on the flanks of the beaches

Forward 14/45 cannons of the US Navy battleship USS Nevada opened fire on positions ashore in the D-Day landings. Only the navy provided artillery support to the troops as they made these tentative advances. In fear of striking their troops and finding targets that were difficult to find, the large guns on battleships or cruisers focused fire at the flanks of beaches in order to obscure them.

The US Navy minesweeper USS Tide sinks after striking a mine, while its crew are assisted by patrol torpedo boat PT-509 and minesweeper USS Pheasant. When another ship attempted to tow the damaged ship to the beach, the strain broke her in two and she sank only minutes after the last survivors had been taken off

After striking a mine the US Navy minesweeper USS Tide, its crew is assisted by USS Pheasant and PT-509 patrol torpedo boats. The strain she received from another ship trying to haul the wrecked ship to shore caused her to sink in two. She sank just minutes after all the survivors were taken off.

A US Army medic moves along a narrow strip of Omaha Beach administering first aid to men wounded in the Normandy landing on D-Day in Collville Sur-Mer. On D-Day, dozens of medics went into battle on the beaches of Normandy, usually without a weapon. Not only did the number of wounded exceed expectations, but the means to evacuate them did not exist

An American Army medic walks along the Omaha Beach strip, giving first aid to soldiers who were injured during D-Day’s Normandy landing in Collville Sur-Mer. D-Day was a day when dozens upon dozens went to battle in Normandy without weapons. In addition to the fact that the numbers of the wounded exceeded all expectations, the means for evacuation were also not there.

Troops were unable to establish a foothold on the beaches, but the troops made great strides in the following days. A harbor at Omaha was also opened.

The German forces stationed along the coast at strongpoints faced strong resistance.

Nearly 10,000 allies were hurt or killed. 6603 were American and 2,499 were also fatal.

There were between 4,000 to 9,000 German troops killed. This proved pivotal in the war against the Allies.

The first wave of troops from the US Army takes cover under the fire of Nazi guns in 1944

In 1944, the first wave of US Army troops takes refuge under the Nazi gunfire.

Canadian soldiers study a German plan of the beach during D-Day landing operations in Normandy. Once the beachhead had been secured, Omaha became the location of one of the two Mulberry harbors, prefabricated artificial harbors towed in pieces across the English Channel and assembled just off shore

Canadian soldiers examine a German beach plan during D-Day landings in Normandy. After the beachhead was secured Omaha was the site of one the Mulberry Harbors. These artificial harbours were towed across the English Channel to be assembled at shore.

US Army Rangers show off the ladders they used to storm the cliffs which they assaulted in support of Omaha Beach landings at Pointe du Hoc. At the end of the two-day action, the initial Ranger landing force of 225 or more was reduced to about 90 fighting men

US Army Rangers show off the ladders they used to storm the cliffs which they assaulted in support of Omaha Beach landings at Pointe du Hoc. After the action of two days, the Ranger initial landing force of at least 225 men was reduced to around 90 combatants.