A D-Day veteran with a ‘lasting legacy’ has died just months after his 100th birthday.

Joe Cattini from Eastleigh passed away on Tuesday, according to the British Normandy Memorial.

He served for five years from 1941 and on D-Day, landed on Gold Beach as a bombardier in the 86th Field Regiment of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry.

The success of the Normandy landings turned the tide of the Second World War in 1944.

Mr Cattini has been described as a ‘giant’ of the veteran community and will be greatly missed.

Hampshire Chronicle:

Nicholas Witchell, trustee of the British Normandy Memorial, said: “Another giant within the Normandy Veteran community has left us.

“We mourn Joe Cattini’s passing and remember the man that he was.

“I recall the support he gave to me and the memorial project in its earliest months.

“Thank you Joe, for everything, from your service in Normandy, to being the delightful man that you were.

“You will remain in our hearts.”

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Alberto Giuseppe Antonio Cattini was the eldest of four boys and was born close to Little Italy but grew up in Hampstead.

It was here his parents owned a café, only yards away in Elm Terrace.

Hampshire Chronicle: Undated handout photo issued by the British Normandy Memorial of Joe Cattini in uniform.Undated handout photo issued by the British Normandy Memorial of Joe Cattini in uniform. (Image: PA)

In 1949 Joe married Mary and the couple had three children – Dominic, Frances and Marian.

Mr Cattini’s daughters, Frances Bradshaw and Marian Farrow, said in a statement: “Our dad had a wonderful life. Having survived the Second World War he was determined to make every day count.

“He had a wonderful sense of humour and a cheeky smile right through to his final days.

“After the 70th anniversary of D-Day, he joined organised trips to Normandy – first with D-Day Revisited and latterly with The Spirit of Normandy Trust – and made lots of friends.

“During these trips he became passionate about having a British memorial built in Normandy.

"The British Normandy Memorial now constructed sits in Ver-sur-Mer, above Gold Beach, where he landed.

“Dad also revisited Eindhoven, which he liberated as part of the Market Garden campaign. During these trips, he spoke of his experiences with schoolchildren.

“He felt it was very important that future generations learn the lessons from the past.

“To this end, he has asked that donations at his funeral should go to the Normandy Memorial Trust to help fund the second ambitious phase of the project – an education and visitor centre.”

Hampshire Chronicle:

Mr Cattini's granddaughter Sarah Burr also announced the news on social media following his passing on Tuesday.

She said: "A life so well lived. One of the last D-Day Veterans left.

"We are so proud of him and loved him so much."

Later in life Mr Cattini joined the group D-Day Revisited to return to Normandy for the 70th Anniversary.

In 2014, he began visiting Eindhoven as part of the Market Garden commemorations.

And in 2019 he was present at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial, after having been appointed ambassador.

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A Memorial spokesman said that Mr Cattini was initially involved in the action at Luc-sur-Mer and then at Ver-sur-Mer, the location of the British Normandy Memorial, and went on to fight through the “bocage” area, with his regiment fighting its way across the heavily defended terrain.

The spokesperson said: “We send our deepest condolences to Joe’s children and their families, and pay tribute to Joe, who demonstrated unwavering support for the Memorial project from the very beginning.

“We are proud and honoured that Joe was our Ambassador since 2019 and he was able to visit the completed Memorial twice.

"He took part in the first remembrance ceremony to take place at the Memorial on June 6 2022.

“His service to our country and subsequent efforts in keeping alive the memory of his fallen comrades will be his lasting legacy."

Hampshire Chronicle: File photo dated 20/05/19 of D-Day and Operation Market Garden veteran Joe Cattini, at the opening of the D-Day 75 Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London.File photo dated 20/05/19 of D-Day and Operation Market Garden veteran Joe Cattini, at the opening of the D-Day 75 Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, London. (Image: PA)

Mr Cattini visited the completed British Normandy Memorial In October 2021, alongside other veterans, and returned in 2022.

During his visit, he said: “I find it very emotional, sometimes.

“Because when one comes and looks at the pillars, and sees some of the names that you knew…you begin to wonder how lucky you were to have survived it.”

In 2014, when he met King Charles, then Prince of Wales, as part of D-Day commemorations that year, he described how the landing craft in front of him hit a mine and sank.

He said: “The chaps were scrambling out as fast as they could.

"Some of them were swimming up to their necks in water. There were a few casualties that did not make it.”

Following his death, it is thought only around six British veterans of the D-Day landings are still alive.

Mr Cattini celebrated his milestone birthday on January 17 this year.