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Staffordshire to commemorate 80th anniversary of D-Day landings

People are being invited to join local services to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the county’s contribution to the operation.

The D-Day landings on 6 June 1944 saw one of the largest amphibious invasions in military history.  The operation saw the Allies use over 5,000 ships and landing craft to land over 150,000 men on five beaches in Normandy.

While Staffordshire was many miles from the action, it played an important role with two regiments involved in the invasion and Battle of Normandy.

Now, as part of the 80th anniversary commemorations, the archives and heritage service at Staffordshire County Council will be sharing stories of the county’s contribution to the operation.

Marchington Camp, also known as Sudbury Camp, near Burton was a huge American Army supply camp that held men and material in the run-up to the operation. It gradually emptied as men and supplies were sent on to France. The camp continued to operate until September 1945, when the Americans left.

Staff have also released aerial photos from the 1948 run showing the large American hospital in the grounds of Shugborough, and the site of the American Camp at Teddesley Park, near Pottal Pool. Both of these were used in the run up and aftermath of D-Day.

Staffordshire has many connections with the military and both World Wars including the WWI military training camps on Cannock Chase along with the Commonwealth Graves and German Military Cemetery. The National Memorial Arboretum, the year-round site of remembrance is in Staffordshire and welcomes over 300,000 visitors each year.

The Staffordshire Yeomanry, a volunteer cavalry unit who served in the 27th Armoured Brigade as part of the Second British Army were involved in the D-Day landings operation. It was probably the only conventional tank unit to land on Sword Beach.

They played a little-known but vital role.  After arriving a squadron of tanks were ordered to move towards the high ground of the Périers-sur-le-Dan ridge, which overlooked the beaches. This move, thought to have been pre-planned by Lieutenant Colonel Eadie, was to prove crucial to the success of the Normandy Landings.

Events locally for the anniversary include a service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.  The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh will join veterans and their families at the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance on Thursday 6 June

At Victoria Park in Stafford, families are invited to enjoy live entertainment around the bandstand from 6pm.  Local poets, artists along with Stafford Military Wives Choir will entertain the crowds followed by the official Beacon Lighting Ceremony at 9pm.

At Queens Gardens in Newcastle on Thursday 6 June at 9.15pm a further beacon will be lit to mark the occasion.  Guests will attend a civic church service at St Giles Church at 8pm before walking to Castle House for the ceremony.

Further information on local events are available on the Enjoy Staffordshire website by searching D Day.

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