Former servicemen from the Hastings and Rother area made a moving trip to the Normandy beaches last week to talke part in ceremonies to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
On June 3 two minibuses left Hastings at 5am destined for Normandy carrying 18 local former men with service in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and various Regiments of the Army, all with operational experiences.
Their aim was to represent their respective arms and regiments at the 75th anniversary ceremonies in Normandy, climaxing at the Commemorative Service Bayeux Military Cemetery on 6th June, organised by the British Legion.
Their programme included visiting Dieppe, Arromanche, Sword Beach, Pegasus Bridge and Bayeux, where some found time to see the Bayeux Tapestry ‘in real life’.
In addition, on the 5th June the group, along with many others, including the trip organisers and veterans from SSAFA Southend & Richford Division, witnessed the airborne drop from C130s and Dakota aircraft at Sannerville, near Pegasus Bridge.
This simulated the first landing into Europe of allied forces on 6th June, 1944.
The whole experience bought home, with some emotions, the enormity of the task on D Day and it’s cost to nations, British, US, Canadian, French, whether serving or civilian.
More poignant were the ages of those fallen on the beaches and the days after, the majority of which were in their early twenties.
Their gravestones also told of clusters of loss by the Commandos, Parachute Regiment, Hampshire’s, Engineers, Essex Regt. Devonshire’s, Cameronians, the list is extensive.
There was pride and gratification that the excellent work of the War Graves Commission keeps their memories alive and that the group were now playing a part in that justifiable recall.
This venture would never have been possible without the support of local charities who generously made contributions to the East Sussex Veterans’ Hub, whose members took part. The Lions Cub Bexhill, SENLAC Rotary, Bexhill Rotary, ESCC, individual donations and the various military charities across all arms.
For this support East Sussex Veterens Hub wish to record their thanks. For the 18 members this will be a lifetime memory, thanks to this support.
The East Sussex Veterans’ Hub is a registered charity that supports veterans by offering a single point of contact for ex-service persons in need, especially those suffering from PTSD and mental ill health.
For further information about the HUB, contact 078843263824.