Wirral commemorations mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day

D-Day, considered by many to mark the beginning of the end of World War II, was the largest seaborne invasion force in history. 

On 6 June 1944, 156,000 Allied servicemen had landed on the beaches and fields of Normandy by the end of the day.

Allied casualties were documented to be at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. Within a few days around 326,000 troops, 100,000 tons of equipment, and more than 50,000 vehicles had been landed.

Commemorations began at 6.29am the exact time the landings started 80 years ago – when a lone piper played at the water’s edge in an echo of events 80 years ago.

Then at 10am the Mayor unveiled a blue plaque for one of the key commanders of the Allied forces on D-Day, Wallasey-born General Sir Miles Dempsey GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, DL, outside his childhood home in New Brighton.

At midday, there was a Service of Remembrance at the cenotaph and Normandy Campaign memorial stone in Hamilton Square, led by the Rector of Birkenhead Priory Parish, Revd Paul Bentley.

The Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Cherry Povall, said, “It is hard to comprehend the scale of those events 80 years ago, and to overestimate their importance in defeating Naziism in Europe. 

“At the centre of it all were hundreds of thousands of young men, from New Brighton to Newfoundland and Heswall to Houston. We owe them – The Liberators – and the millions of people who supported their efforts, our eternal thanks.”

Throughout the day there were guided tours of the secret manufacturing facility beneath the New Palace in New Brighton – officially registered as US Army Depot 0616, were visitors learnt about facility’s role in the war effort and viewed the original machinery used to make radio parts, shell casings and bullets, which remain in-situ.

Never before seen photographs taken on D-Day and throughout the Normandy Campaign by Chaplain to the Second Army and former Seacombe resident, Revd Warner-Radcliffe, were also on display. Furter details are available from New Brighton Heritage Centre.

The day was rounded off with a 1940s tea dance at Birkenhead Town Hall, which will raise funds for local good causes.

For more information about D-Day and the Normandy Campaign visit the Imperial War Museum website.

Image: Wirral Council

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