Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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D-Day 80: Memories of a huge secret military exercise in rural West Berkshire

In March 1944, local farmer Alan Baylis was an eight year-old child when he witnessed a major pre-D-Day military exercise in his family’s field at Boxford, West Berkshire (pictured above).

3,500 parachutists dropped from Dakota aircraft as Alan watched amazed. What’s more, Prime Minister Winston Churchill and United States General Dwight D.Eisenhower were on hand to watch the exercise and rally the troops.

Please click on the white arrow below to hear Alan Baylis remember this incredible event. His daughter Jenny Smith also talks about a Circular Walk around the Welford farm, which has been created to display memorabilia from the “Big Drop”. Please scroll down to access the leaflet for this walk.

Above are Alan Bayliss (left) and Jenny Smith at RAF Welford museum.

Here below is the leaflet (here in pdf format) describing the “Big Drop” Circular Walk which can enjoy around Boxford, while seeing panels of photographs of and information about the day March 1944 when 3,500 parachutists descended on rural West Berkshire. There are also QR codes available so that you can watch video footage of the event:

Big Drop leaflet 1

Big Drop Leaflet 2