Wirral to remember ‘The Liberators’ on the 80th Anniversary of D-Day

The Mayor of Wirral will lead local commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day on Thursday, 6 June.

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 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 in Wirral begin at 6.29am – the exact time the landings started 80 years ago – when a whistle will be blown and, in an echo of the legendary actions of Canadian piper William Millin (Piper Bill) who played as troops landed on Sword beach in Normandy, a lone piper will play on the water’s edge on the Wirral coastline.

At 10am, one of the key commanders of the Allied forces on D-Day, Wallasey-born General Sir Miles Dempsey GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, DL, will be honoured when the Mayor unveils a blue plaque outside the Commander of the Second Army’s childhood home in New Brighton.

At 12pm the Rector of Birkenhead Priory Parish, Revd Paul Bentley, will lead a Service of Remembrance at the cenotaph in Hamilton Square and the adjoining Normandy Campaign memorial stone.

Residents are invited to join the Mayor, veterans and armed forces representatives to remember those who took part in the Normandy Landings and all those who supported their efforts, including many thousands of workers in Wirral’s shipyards, airfields, and armaments factories.

Bidston Observatory also played a critical role in D-Day planning as its staff were responsible for calculating tide tables for the beaches of Normandy and other locations in Northern France.

At 1.30pm, the Mayor’s Charity Fund is holding a 1940s-themed tea dance in Birkenhead town hall. The sold-out event will raise funds for local good causes.

From 11am until 5pm guided tours of the secret manufacturing facility beneath the New Palace in New Brighton – officially registered as US Army Depot 0616 – will take place on the hour (except 1pm).

Visitors can view the original machinery used to make radio parts, shell casings and bullets, which remains in-situ and learn about facility’s role in the war effort. 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, will also be on display. Places on the tours are limited and must be booked through the New Brighton Heritage Centre by calling 0151 639 1674.

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.”

Image: Normandy Campaign memorial stone, Hamilton Square, Birkenhead

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