Thursday, 13 June 2013

D-Day Commemorations 2013

It has been a pretty emotional week here in the heart of Normandy.   Another anniversary commemorating the sacrifices made by so many allied soldiers on the beaches and in the fields of Normandy.   As usual the local towns and villages paid homage to the soldiers killed and injured to free France, and ultimately the whole of Europe, from Nazi terror.

I took the kids out of school and on 6th June and we went and paid our respects to the fallen at the military cemetery in Bayeux, a truly moving occasion and a sobering one, for each year the number of veterans who come over gets fewer.    I sincerely hope that their sacrifices will never be forgotten, I for one won't forget, but one does wonder whether their endeavours will be commemorated once they have all left this mortal coil.

Our local mayor wrote an article in our village magazine at the beginning of this year, it was about a young RAAF airman, whose plane was shot down and crashed in a neighbouring village.   He was rescued by a local family and then brought to our village where a platoon of the 507th P.I.R. had dropped.   Traditionally RAF personnel were expected to get back to Blighty by any means possible, but this brave young man stayed with the 507th and fought to defend our village against an SS Division stationed in a neighbouring village.   He died on 11th June 1944 aged 21.   This was news to us, his name does not appear on the memorial plaque in the church, it is thanks to Mr Small, our mayor that his heroic story has come to light.

We have since investigated his story, and located his grave and that of his comrades who perished with the plane.   We had every intention of going to Bayeux this year, but the need to recognise this young man's sacrifice and heroism became our overriding aim.   Whilst at the cemetery we were lucky enough to meet some representatives of the Australian Armed forces and we told them the story of this remarkable young man.  They have vowed to keep in touch with us with a view to commemorating this young airman.   Next year will be the 70th Anniversary and our mayor has told me that there will be an inauguration of a new memorial plaque in our village, this will mention not only the Australian airman, but many more names of soldiers of the 507th P.I.R and citizens who perished.

This link will take you to the history of our village and will add some gravitas to the heroism portrayed by the allied servicemen who lost their lives defending it.

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