Saturday, July 20, 2024

D-Day 80 memories

A glorious weekend final commemoration and celebration of D-Day 80 is nearly upon us.  Saturday’s massive military vehicle convoy winds through practically the whole of the Kennet Radio patch, starting in Basingstoke and working through many of the towns and villages that played such an important part in the preparation for D-Day 1944.  Sunday sees a huge event at the Triangle Field (Hungerford Rugby ground).

We at Kennet Radio have been hearing the memories of those who were actually there.  We’ll be playing an interview with Bill Gregory on his memories of the war and D-Day preparations in the area. He was a 14 year old boy in 1944, who fibbed about his age to get into the Air Training Corps. He and his bestie, Derek, cycled to Ramsbury to scrounge joy-rides with the air-crews up there.

We also received the following memory from local boy, Peter Moon, just four years old in early 1944. Peter’s family came originally from Ramsbury, where his Grandfather ran the flour mill that is today Moons Mill, before moving ahead of 1944 to Denford Mill and the family enjoyed a large garden for growing food, even keeping a pig. Peter has lived in Hungerford all his life, working in the printing and stationery industry. He told us this:

Although I was only four years old, I recall the American troops billeted on Hungerford Common in late May and early June 1944.

At the time, my grandparents, Charles and Florence Winchcombe, lived in Denford Mill and at the northern end of the building was an annexe, which the soldiers used as a sergeants mess.  This was where, with my brother Michael, I first enjoyed proper American Ringed Donuts. I also remember seeing straight lines of Army vehicles parked on the Common.

After orders came through for the troops to leave, we said our goodbyes and hoped that many would not lose their lives on [what turned out to be] the beaches of Normandy.

After the war and for some time my Grandmother received letters and cards from surviving ex-soldiers from America thanking her for her kindness and hospitality which they said they would never forget.

See you this weekend!

Photo by kind permission of Bill Gregory