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Monte Cassino veteran, from Upminster, returns to Italy to commemorate ‘boys who didn’t make it home’

11:17 19 May 2014

Jim Knox made the return trip this week. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

Jim Knox made the return trip this week. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

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Second World War veteran Jim Knox will today make an emotional pilgrimage to the mountains of Southern Italy where he fought 70 years ago.

Jim with great-grandson Jack Reynolds before they travelled to Monte Cassino in southern Italy, Picture: PAJim with great-grandson Jack Reynolds before they travelled to Monte Cassino in southern Italy, Picture: PA

The 89-year-old, from Upminster, will be travelling with his sons, daughters and great-grandson Jack, 14, who will be supporting the former para in the landmark commemorations at Monte Cassino, which will also be attended by Prince Harry.

The Monte Cassino Society has been funded with £28,535 through the Heroes Return Big Lottery Fund scheme.

Jim’s group will join up with other veterans and their families from across the UK pay their respects to those who died during the epic battle, recognised as one of the most dogged and ferocious actions of the war.

Jim said: “It’s going to be an emotional journey. It means so much that my family will be able to share this with me and walk with me at the battle site where so many fought and died. To have my great-grandson Jack stand with me, to commemorate all the boys who didn’t make it back home, is very special. This is a journey I will never forget.”

Prince Harry salutes after laying a wreath on behalf of The Queen during a commemoration service at Monte Cassino cemetery on the first day of his tour of Italy yesterday. Picture: PAPrince Harry salutes after laying a wreath on behalf of The Queen during a commemoration service at Monte Cassino cemetery on the first day of his tour of Italy yesterday. Picture: PA

Jack said: “I’m really pleased that I have this amazing chance to mark the 70th anniversary with my great-granddad. I’m definitely going to share my experiences with all my friends.”

The Big Lottery Fund has ensured over 57,000 Second World War veterans, widows and carers have had the opportunity since 2004 to go back to battlefields to attend commemorations.

Fund chairman Peter Ainsworth met Jim before he set off to Monte Cassino and heard first-hand the terrible cost of the battle.

He said: “Our later generations owe an immense debt of gratitude to our veterans, and none more so than those who fought in the battle for Monte Cassino.”

Read more:

‘It was like walking into hell’: Monte Cassino veteran from Upminster remembers battle on eve of return

Hornchurch veteran’s Second World War story to be shown in schools

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