‘Being here is better than winning the lottery to me’

FOR 83-year-old Lilian Jenkinson, the pain of losing the love of her life during the Normandy invasions has hardly faded.

Sixty years after the D-Day landings, she was back in Normandy by her late husband’s side once again, and she said returning to the cemetery at Benouville, where he lies, was all she lives for now.

“I do a lot of crying, but being here is better than winning the lottery to me,” said Mrs Jenkinson, who lives in Dagenham, east London.

William John Jenkinson, who was serving in the 4th Battalion Dorset Regiment, was killed by a mortar bomb just a few days after the Allies landed on the Normandy coast in June 1944.

The couple were neighbours growing up in Plaistow, east London, before they finally married in 1941. “We had known each other since we were children,” she said.

He was a man in a million and I think of him more and more.

“I’ve got a little place made in my garden that I use as a little private grave, with flowers,” she said.

William’s senior officer, also wounded in the attack, tried to get him to take cover, she said.

“He pleaded with my husband to go to ground but he refused.”

She went on: “When I heard he had been killed, my parents had to do all they could to console me.

“There are lots of women the same as me but, to me, no one could be any better than him.

“He was such a wonderful person.”

Still missing her true love, Mrs Jenkinson married again but despite having children, the marriage ended unhappily.

“I have got everything at home to remind me of him but I have to come back here.”

Speaking as she waited to see the Queen at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery at Bayeux, Mrs Jenkinson said she hopes to return again next year.

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