Tuesday, May 21, 2024

D-Day 80 Commemorations – coming to all of our Kennet Radio area

D-Day, 6th June 1944, was the largest seaborne invasion in history, swarming onto the beaches at Normandy in northern France with troops from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and other countries.  Codenamed Operation Neptune (D-Day was the culmination of the timeline), it marked as it turned out the beginning of the end of the Second World War, although the end of war was still more than a year away – in Europe and beyond.

Eighty years on, this year’s commemorations are likely to the last with any real presence of serving veterans, so it’s a big deal.

Thursday, 6th June will belong to France.  But our Kennet Radio area played a substantial role in the invasions.  Like many parts of the Home Counties, masses of deployed troops were garrisoned in country estates and large buildings – such as Chilton Foliat, Denford and Littlecote – while spurious activity in Kent, especially around Dover, helped to disguise what was really going on.  Greenham Common and Aldermaston led the airborne invasion, and airfields were built at Ramsbury, Membury and Welford.

Then, they were gone, practically vanishing overnight (within a week, 300,000 troops had landed and taken control of the Normandy beaches), although General Dwight Eisenhower visited here on 10th August 1944 to witness a large parade and hand out medals.

So, at the end of June, unique to West Berkshire and the surrounding areas, our area will stage a huge commemorative event, a centre-piece of which will feature a convoy of approximately 80 classic military vehicles.

The convoy will depart Basingstoke at 10am on 29th June and will drive through Basingstoke to Kingsclere, and onto Greenham Common where the convoy will pause for a small stop.  From Greenham Common, the convoy will drive though the centre of Newbury and onto the A4 towards Hungerford, West Berkshire.  In Hungerford, the convoy will drive though the High Street – which will be decorated with union flags – and onto the show site at Triangle Field.

Hungerford’s weekend of commemoration will see a full programme of activities and events including parades; display; history talks and the unveiling of a D-Day commemorative stone on Hungerford Common.

The event is raising funds for the Royal British Legion Riders Branch Poppy Appeal and local charities.