Remembering D-Day Veteran and Memorial Ambassador Joe Cattini
The Trust is so sad to learn of the passing of D-Day Veteran and Memorial Ambassador Joe Cattini. Joe died on Tuesday 18 April 2023 just three months after his 100th birthday.
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 6 June 2022.
His service to our country and subsequent efforts in keeping alive the memory of his fallen comrades will be his lasting legacy.
Trustee Nicholas Witchell 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.”
Rest in Peace dear friend.
With kind permission from Joe’s daughter, Fran Bradshaw, we share pictures from the family archives and his life story.
Alberto Giuseppe Antonio Cattini was the eldest of four boys. His parents owned cafes. He was born in Gray’s Inn Road, close to Little Italy, but grew up in Constantine Road, Hampstead. His parents’ cafe was just yards away in Elm Terrace.
Joe as a baby
Joe as a young boy
Joe with his father in Tuscany, Italy, aged 7.
Joe served for five years from 1941. On D-Day he landed on Gold Beach as a Bombardier in the 86th Field Regiment RA of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry. He was initially involved in the action at Luc-sur-Mer and then at Ver-sur-Mer, the location of the British Normandy Memorial. Later, Joe fought through the ‘bocage’ area, with his regiment fighting its way across the heavily defended terrain.
Joe married Mary in 1949 and had three children – Dominic, Frances and Marian.
The late 1950s with his daughters Frances and Marian.
Joe with wife Mary
Joe’s life changed when he joined the group D-Day Revisited to return to Normandy for the 70th Anniversary. In 2014, he also began visiting Eindhoven as part of the Market Garden commemorations. In 2019 he was present at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial, after having been appointed Ambassador. He continues to campaign for ongoing support of the Memorial to ensure that his fallen comrades are never forgotten.
“The British public should have a great concern & interest in this Memorial.”
Joe, alongside his friend late Veteran Leslie Dobinson, talking about the location of the Memorial back in June 2017.
Joe’s first visit to the completed British Normandy Memorial In October 2021, alongside other Veterans. [Photo credit: Arthur Edwards FRPS]
Joe being interviewed by BBC Breakfast’s John Maguire alongside Honorary President, Lord Peter Ricketts, 6 June 2022.
Joe at the Memorial for the 78th Anniversary in 2022.
During Joe’s visit on 6 June 2022, he reflected on the loss of his comrades and the importance of remembrance.
“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.”
Joe became a centenarian on 17 January 2023 and received a birthday card from His Majesty The King. On Friday 20 January, Joe appeared in an interview with John Maguire on BBC Breakfast, to mark this special milestone and reflect on his D-Day Story: