D-DAY veteran Thomas Cuthbert admits he’s been told off too many times for making jokes.

But little did the 93 year-old realise his latest quip, to none other than US President Donald Trump, would make him a national media sensation.

Thomas, from Elmstead Market, is coming down from cloud nine after a whirlwind few days to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

He was invited by the Royal British Legion to travel on the specially chartered MV Boudicca cruise ship to a series of commemorative events on both sides of the Channel.

The week-long cruise was for 300 veterans who helped liberate France during the Second World War and set off from and returned to Dover.

Part of the voyage included a stop at Portsmouth where there was a special reception, attended by Mr Trump and the First Lady, Melania.

It was during this that Thomas jokingly told the US president he might fancy his chances with Melania if he was 20 years younger.

Little did he know, the light-hearted moment was picked up by journalists and soon became a national news story.

President Trump replied to Thomas: “You could handle it, no question.”

Thomas, a great grandfather-of-three, was allowed to take his daughter Carole Monk as his guest for the cruise.

Carole, from Wivenhoe, said: “My family were back home and told me what was going on.

“Obviously he doesn’t understand the ‘Facebooks’ and the ‘Googles’.

“While we were on the cruise we had a TV in the bedroom but I never looked because I didn’t want to know what was going on.

“I thought I would wait until I got home.”


Tom added: “It surprised me as well. I didn’t think the press caught on to that.

“It just came naturally to me.

“I have been told off too many times for making jokes.”

Thomas admitted he was “slightly nervous” about potentially meeting so many high-profile figures in one go.

At the reception he also shook hands with the Queen and Prince Charles and joked with him about suffering from sea sickness when he was in the Navy.

“Anybody would be nervous,” he added, “especially when you didn’t know until that morning you were going to meet them.”

As well as the national news attention, Thomas’s cheeky charm captured the attention of producers at ITV’s Good Morning Britain.


On Monday, he and Carole found themselves on the national TV stage when he was interviewed live by hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid.

Tom said: “Piers Morgan is very nice. He does things so naturally, they both make you feel at ease.”

Speaking about being on live TV, he added: “It was a bit of a strain but I didn’t mind.”

The afternoon before his TV appearance was a brief chance for Thomas and Carole to catch up with his family at his home.

Thomas received a well-deserved hero’s welcome from them as they waved Union flags outside his bungalow.

He said: “They were all along the path.

“That was the most emotional thing, my grandchildren and great grandchildren lining the path with Union Jacks in their hands.”

Reflecting on the cruise, which included a visit to Bayeux War Cemetery, France, he added: “It was an honour to go over to France for the respect for the heroes that died.

“It was memorable meeting the Queen, meeting Donald Trump and Prince Charles and the Prime Minister and walking by the graves.


“I was surprised at how many graves there were and especially when a saw a grave of a soldier who was buried with his dog.

“It was very touching.”

Thomas was awarded the Legion D’Honneur in May 2017 for his role in the D-Day landings during which he served on a landing barge oiler anchored off shore from Utah and Omaha beaches.

The vessel he was on was a target for enemies because of the amount of fuel aboard.


The crew’s mission to refuel other vessels but they were often under heavy fire with the barge resembling a “floating bomb”, Thomas recalled.

“I went ashore when the Americans captured the Omaha beachhead.

“I was later anchored at Cherbourg Harbour until after new year 1945.

“I was, and still am, proud to be a part of the D-Day landings and the process to liberate France.”