A 101-YEAR-OLD D-Day veteran met the King and Rishi Sunak while honouring the 80th anniversary of the invasion in Normandy.

Alan McQuillin, who lives in Kemble, travelled to France as part of a group of veterans with The Spirit of Normandy Trust, which aims to support those involved in D-Day and Operation Overlord.

While there, he was interviewed by the BBC and met King Charles, Rishi Sunak and French president Emmanuel Macron.

During the trip, the veterans stayed at a hotel in Ouistreham and took part in activities including visiting key invasion locations, talking to schoolchildren in Caen and attending the King’s visit to Normandy on June 6.

“The King talked to me for about 10 minutes,” recalled Alan, who also made the headlines as a paper boy in Kemble in his nineties.

“He sat down and shook my hand, and I said: ‘You’re my neighbour.’ “Once I mentioned Lord Mountbatten to him, he was all ears.

“The whole trip was a moving experience.”

At the time of D-Day, Alan was part of the RAF Servicing Commando 3210, having joined the RAF aged 18 in 1941 after growing up in Leicester.

On June 6, 1944 - the day after his 21st birthday - he travelled to France with the unit, arriving in the country on June 7.

He worked at different airstrips in Normandy, rearming and refuelling planes.

“My unit left Gosport on the morning of June 6, just after we’d heard General Eisenhower’s message that the invasion had begun,” he explained.

“We went across the Channel at a very slow pace because there wasn’t much room.

“We didn’t land until 11 o’clock on the morning of the 7th.”

After arriving in France, Alan and his unit first worked at the B3 airstrip in Sainte-Croix-sur-Mer.

“The first planes came in from England in the very early hours of June 9,” he said.

“The Army had bulldozed all the crops off the farm where the airstrip was located, and initially, the planes were landing on the bare earth.

“We stayed at B3 from the 7th to the 15th, then one of the squadrons pulled their own ground staff over and we moved on to another airstrip.

“We did about five or six airstrips altogether in Normandy.”

Lord Mountbatten had recommended the creation of servicing commandos in the RAF in January 1942.

The commando units were trained on similar lines to the Army and Royal Marines commandos, with their role being to make enemy airfields serviceable or make new airstrips built by the Army airfield construction units operational.

Alan and his unit were pulled back to England following the Normandy breakout.

By the time of VE Day on May 8, 1945, he was in Kolkata in India, having been sent to the East in light of a planned invasion of Malaya.

He was demobbed in 1946 and moved to Kemble in 1965, where he worked milking cows and rearing calves.

He retired in 1989, but worked as a paper boy in the village until recently - delivering papers six days a week despite two knee replacements.

During his trip to Normandy, Alan - who had two children - also had the opportunity to visit the site of the airstrip he had worked on at Sainte-Croix-sur-Mer.

“Everybody had lunch with the mayor,” he said.

“We spent all afternoon talking to him, and then we went up to the memorial on B3 for a service.

“I happened to be the only veteran who was present at that airstrip in 1944.

“One fellow actually gave me a large piece of shrapnel that he’d found on the airfield.

“I’ve got it in my kitchen now.”

It is thought that there are just over 100 British D-Day veterans still alive today.

Alan first went back to Normandy in 1984 and returned regularly until recently, when mobility prevented him from doing so.