Jack Wilkinson celebrated his 90th birthday with a party with family and friends last week – but one face was missing.
Jack had hoped the party in The Anchor at Sutton Bridge would be a joint celebration with his old comrade Norman Sedgwick.
Sadly, Norman had died in November before reaching his birthday on Christmas Day.
Norman and Jack – who were born a day apart – first became friends when joining up during 1943 and fought together at the D-Day landings a year later.
In the frenzy of war their duties took them in different directions and they did not know if the other had survived the fighting.
But 60 years later, they were brought back in contact and found they were living just five miles apart.
From then they would meet up regularly until Norman died on November 24.
Sutton Bridge man Jack, who lost his wife Daphne 20 months ago, said: “It was a very good party and I reminisced about Norman. Our friendship was unbelievable.”
Jack, who turned 90 on Boxing Day, first met Norman while joining the army in Formby in Lancashire, in 1943.
They both joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment and on June 5, 1944, they headed to France. They landed on Sword beach at 7.20am on June 6.
Jack said: “I don’t know how we survived. It was complete chaos.”
Four weeks after D-Day, Jack and Norman were transferred to different units.
On his return home, Jack tried to track down Norman.
Jack said: “I remembered his home address and wrote to him and the reply was ‘not known at this address’. I thought he had been killed.”
But they were reunited during the 60th anniversary of D-Day when they both inquired if their old regiment was planning a reunion and were put back in touch by Ken Moore, of the 5th King’s/2T Force Old Comrades Association.
Jack, who retired to Sutton Bridge 20 years ago, said: “In January 2004, I had a phone call from Ken to say he found someone from my regiment. When he told me Norman’s name, I nearly fell through the floor.
“We had been in the area for at least 10 years and had not seen each other.”
From then on, Jack had popped over to see Norman in Terrington St Clement every Saturday morning.
Norman later moved into Nene Lodge in Sutton Bridge.