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World War Two veteran, 94, to skydive for anti-trafficking and modern slavery work

World War Two veteran, 94, to skydive for anti-trafficking and modern slavery work

World War Two veteran, 94, to skydive for anti-trafficking and modern slavery work

13 September 2018

Commissioner Harry Read will be taking part in his first high level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy as a young wireless operator (left) on 6 June 1944, D-Day.

Commissioner Harry Read, 94, will be taking part in his first high-level skydive since he parachuted into Normandy on 6 June 1944, D-Day.

Commissioner Read is using the event to fundraise for The Salvation Army’s Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery work in the United Kingdom.

As a 20-year-old wireless operator in World War Two, Harry was part of the Parachute Brigade landing in Normandy early on 6 June. To avoid attack during war time, parachuting would take place as close to the ground as possible.

“On that morning at 00.50 hours I parachuted into Normandy and 30 seconds later I was on the ground,” Commissioner Read explained.

“It was a very different experience to the one I’m about to undertake. This will be my first high-level skydive and I’m quite looking forward to the occasion. My doctor has assured me my heart is as healthy as a middle-aged man.”

A lifelong member of The Salvation Army and a great-great grandfather, in 2016 Harry was awarded France’s highest honour, the Chevalier, by order of the Légion d'Honneur for the role he played in the country’s liberation from the Nazis in June 1944.

Commissioner Read had seen veterans taking part in skydives previously and, after visiting the Normandy battlefields on an anniversary tour earlier this year, he was inspired to look into one for himself.

Ahead of a possible skydive next June (2019) at the 75-year anniversary of D-Day, Harry decided to try a dive a little closer to home and is booked into The Old Sarum Airfield in Salisbury tomorrow, 14 September.

Commissioner Read explains that his drive to take part in the skydive is about his sense of faith overpowering his common sense.

“At whatever age we are, we are more than capable of shrinking from something that we feel is beyond us, but I believe we should not withdraw from a challenge – yesterday is not our best, our best is tomorrow,” he said.

Commissioner Read has already raised well over £3000 (AU$6000). The money raised from his skydive will go to support the work of The Salvation Army’s Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit, in particular the international projects aiming at preventing trafficking and slavery at the source.

Joining Commissioner Read on the jump will be members of his family – granddaughters Lianne, 37, and Joanna, 39, and his great-grandson Josh, 23.

“Grandad’s last jump helped to change the world,” said Joanna. “We’re all hoping that this jump will too – for the children, women and men who are victims of human trafficking.

“The Salvation Army works in the UK and around the world to both rescue those have been trafficked and provide ongoing support to help them live life to the full in freedom.”

Commissioner Read has previously served as The Salvation Army’s Territorial Leader in Australia Eastern and the United Kingdom with the Republic of Ireland; and as Chief Secretary at The Salvation Army in Canada.

If you would like to support Harry’s skydive please click here.




  1. Marilyn D. Francis
    Marilyn D. Francis

    Commissioner Harry and Wynn his beautiful gracious wife will always live in our hearts and minds. But, never dreamed at 94 that he would be jumping out of a plane!! Thought I knew Harry!!! Wow! Have a lot to learn about this Hero! Of mine. Awed! By His Poetry and Prose writing but NOW. COURAGEOUS BEYOND WORDS!!

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