Rochdale marks 75th anniversary of D-Day
Date published: 06 June 2019
D-Day 75th Anniversary Service at Rochdale Cenotaph
Veterans gathered at Rochdale Cenotaph today (Thursday 6 June) to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
On Tuesday 6 June 1944, during World War II, more than 156,000 men landed in Normandy on D-Day. 83,000 of these were from Britain and the Commonwealth.
To pay tributes to the fallen of the Allied invasion of Normandy – the largest seaborne invasion in history – a service was held in Rochdale Memorial Gardens, attended by the Mayor of Rochdale, councillor Billy Sheerin; town centre chaplain Reverend Margaret Smith; Broadfield Primary School and Oulder Hill Community School students; local councillors; Greater Manchester Police; Wing Commander David Forbes; Lord Lieutenant, Vivien Carter; Deputy Lieutenant, Ian Sandiford; council leader, Allen Brett and representatives of the Royal British Legion.
Remembering those who landed on the beaches 75 years ago today to liberate France and Europe from Nazi control, poems were read, prayers were given, and wreaths were laid for those who died in the Summer of 1944.
‘For The Fallen’ was read by Wing Commander David Forbes:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
The Last Post played as attendees gave a moment of silence, followed by a performance of the Reveille.
Wing Commander Forbes then said The Kohima Epitaph – ‘When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today’.
Mayor Sheerin gave a speech: “D-Day (or ‘Operation Overlord’ to use its official title) was a herculean planning task, requiring remarkable co-ordination between the British, American, Free French, and Commonwealth armies.
“An epic battle that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships and 20,000 armoured vehicles, the desperate struggle that unfolded on 6 June 1944 was, above all, a story of individual heroics.
“We are free today because of heroic acts 75 years ago. We will be free tomorrow because of the sacrifices made by so many.
“61,715 British Troops landed on the beaches during Operation Overlord, many never came home. It is hard to imagine the chaos of that day, the thoughts running through people’s minds before the landing craft ramp fell, final thoughts, a prayer or a message whispered to a loved one. A moment of calm before the madness of battle.
“Today we have stood in silence; we will lay wreaths and pray for those who did return and for those who remain in Normandy. When we leave here today let us remember those who have served, and the sacrifices made by so many.
“It is important to remember. Lest We Forget.”
The poem ‘Normandy’ by Cyril Crain was read by Oulder Hill School students before wreaths were laid by dignitaries and the public on Rochdale Cenotaph.
Reverend Margaret Smith finished with prayers and blessings: “Today we meet and pray to give thanks to those who secured our freedom. With no promise of return, brothers, fathers and sons set forth to fight.
“We must always honour and remember members of the armed forces – the navy, air force and army – who serve our country.”
Councillor Janet Emsley finished the ceremony by giving thanks to all in attendance, who were later invited to Rochdale Town Hall for refreshments.
Councillor Emsley said: “The service showed our borough at its very best, as communities came together to pay their respect and remember the fallen. We will never forget those who lost their lives on the beaches of Normandy, fighting for the freedoms and liberty we enjoy today.
“Their courage and sacrifice live on through today’s generations. I was proud to be at this special service and, in the words of the moving Normandy poem, we stand in memory and remember them with pride. Lest we forget.”
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