Date issued: 24 May 2019
The heroism and sacrifice of those who took part in the D-Day landings and the battles that followed will be honoured in a special commemoration service at Colchester’s War Memorial on 6 June – marking the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe.
Dignitaries including the Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Mrs Jennifer Tolhurst and Lieutenant Colonel Steve Caldwell, Commander of Colchester Garrison, will join members of the Royal British Legion and the public to lay wreaths at the memorial.
Commemorations begin at 12.15pm in Holly Trees Garden, when the Mayor of Colchester will unveil the Pegasus flower bed display. The floral homage pays tribute to the airborne soldiers who wore the Pegasus flash on D-Day and throughout the Normandy Campaign, during Operation Market Garden in the Netherlands that culminated in the Battle of Arnhem, and other airborne operations in 1944 – as well as in recognition of Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade who continue to wear the Pegasus flash with pride.
The focus then shifts to the War Memorial for the main commemoration service. The Reverend Tony Rose and The Reverend Canon Paul Norrington will lead prayers, and a bugler from The Band of the Royal Anglian Regiment will play The Last Post and Reveille. A two-minute silence will be followed by the laying of wreaths and the reading by a representative of the Royal British Legion of the Kohima Epitaph.
Members of the public are most welcome to join the service and stand alongside local school children who have also been invited.
The Mayor of Colchester, Cllr Nick Cope, said: “I would like to invite members of the public to join me on this 75th anniversary and pay tribute to those who took park in the D-Day invasion and the battles that followed.
“We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those whose sacrifice and bravery during the Normandy Campaign helped defeat the Nazis and secure freedom in Europe.
“Their immense and heroic endeavour brought the end of the Second World War within reach.”
Lieutenant Colonel Steve Caldwell, Commander Colchester Garrison, said: “The D-Day landings – both from the air and on the beaches – were a hugely ambitious operation and it is right that we should honour the bravery and sacrifice of all who took part to ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.
“For the soldiers of Colchester Garrison, as the home of the British Army’s airborne forces, we pay particular tribute to the men of 6th Airborne Division who landed by parachute or glider and are conscious that we shoulder the responsibility of maintaining the high standards they set.”
The allied assault on 6 June 1944 was the largest amphibious operation in history and marked the start of an 80-day campaign to liberate Normandy. Around 10,500 Allied troops were killed, wounded or reported missing on the first day. Three million troops were involved and 250,000 lost their lives by the end of the Battle for Normandy – also known as Operation Overlord – but the end of the war was brought closer as the Nazi hold over western Europe began to crumble.
TIMETABLE OF EVENTS:
12.15 – Unveiling of the Pegasus flower bed display, Hollytrees Garden
12.30 – War Memorial: welcome and opening prayers,
12.37 – The Battle of Merville Gun Battery, 6th June 1944 told by Garrison Commander Lieutenant Colonel Steve Caldwell,
12.41 – The Ode to the Fallen read by the Royal British Legion
12.42 – The Last Post played by a bugler from the Band of the Royal Anglian Regiment
12.43 – Two-minute silence
12.45 – Reveille, followed by laying of wreaths
12.50 – The Kohima Epitaph read by the Royal British Legion.
12.51 – The Blessing given by The Reverend Tony Rose, Royal British Legion