Liverpool to mark 80th anniversary of D-Day

The 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings will be marked in Liverpool next month by a series of events.

On 6 and 9 June there will be several moments when the city will be able to reflect on the historic manoeuvres of 6 June 1944 which started the Battle of Normandy, or Operation Overlord. D-Day, as it’s more commonly known, remains the largest seaborne invasion ever undertaken when approximately 160,000 men crossed the Channel in a single day. It is estimated that there were 10,000 Allied casualties on D-Day.

On Thursday, 6 June at noon, The Merseyside Service of Celebration and Commemoration will take place in St John’s Gardens when wreaths will be laid at the D-Day memorial stone.

The service, which is for invited guests, will be attended by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Richard Kemp, as well as the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside Mark Blundell and the High Sheriff of Merseyside Professor John Mohin OBE DL. Mayors of other local boroughs will also be in attendance.

The service will be led by the The Rector of Liverpool, The Reverend Canon, Dr Crispin Pailing MBE, in what will be one of his final public appearances as the city’s rector.

Liverpool-born D-Day veteran Joseph Carter who served in the Royal Navy has been invited to attend the service. Mr Carter, who is aged 100, joined the Royal Navy in 1942, aged 18, and was serving on HMS Mackay on D-Day which bombarded defences on Juno beach and later also crewed a tank landing craft.

At 6.30pm on the same day, the bells of Liverpool Parish Church – St Nick’s – will ring out for peace.

The city’s attention will then turn to national events at 9.15pm when beacons will be lit across the country. Eight beacons will be lit on St George’s Plateau where they will remain alight for 30 minutes.

Then on Sunday, 9 June, at 1pm 1,000 veterans accompanied by two bands will march through the city from Copperas Hill, along Hanover Street, arriving at the Royal Albert Dock at 1.30pm. Prayers will once again by read by Reverend Canon Dr Crispin Pailing and Liverpool’s Armed Forces Champion Cllr Christine Banks will read the national D-Day tribute. The short service will conclude at 1.40pm.

From 6-9 June civic buildings will be lit red, white and blue and the Union Flag will also be flown from the Town Hall.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool Cllr Richard Kemp said, “Over the D-Day commemoration events I will be thinking about two things. Firstly, the crucial role that Liverpool played in getting supplies of all kinds from all over the world down to the Southern Front and across to the Eastern Front. We know that if those supplies had not got through then Hitler would have won the war.

“Secondly, I will be thinking very personally about the role that my father played. I recently discovered a letter he wrote on any bit of paper available between 3 June 1944 and 13 June to my Liverpool-born Mum who was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. He never knew that the letter would arrive or that he would survive.

“I will be reading some of his letter out during the events and particularly the way that he, an RAF LAC (Leading Aircraft Man) was on one of the first ships to leave harbour late on 5 June to go within 2.5 miles of the French coast where they provided radar information to guide in the bombers, gliders and fighters that provided cover and support to the landings.

“Over the past 80 years so much has happened and almost all of the D-Day heroes have passed on. I believe, however, that it is vital that we continue to remember those that risked or gave their lives to defend our precious freedoms.”

The Rector of Liverpool, The Reverend Canon Dr Crispin Pailing MBE, said, “Although it is 80 years since D-Day, the consequences of that remarkable military operation are part of our lives today.

“We take for granted the liberty we enjoy, but it was at a high cost. In our commemorations this year we pay tribute to the people of this city and across the world who gave so much for us, and we give thanks that so many returned.”

WO2 Billy Jones, Parade Sgt Major, said, “It is a great honour to be part of the team that has planned what we think will be the biggest veterans parade in the North of England to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of D-Day.

“I’m sure the people of Liverpool will be out in numbers to join the veterans and the military personnel on parade to celebrate a remarkable achievement and pay tribute to the men and women who sacrificed so much for the service of this country.”

Image: The D-Day memorial stone in St John’s Gardens, Liverpool

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