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D-Day 80: Pupils at Bishop’s Stortford primary school Thorn Grove share commemoration with veterans and mayor





Pupils at a Bishop’s Stortford school used real sand to recreate the Normandy beaches as they shared their D-Day 80th anniversary commemoration with veterans.

The guests at Thorn Grove Primary School were treated to chocolate fish and chips wrapped in vintage newspaper – and learned the amazing story of one teacher’s grandfather.

The mayor of Bishop’s Stortford, Cllr Richard Townsend, joined members of the town’s Royal British Legion and Armed Forces Veterans’ Breakfast Club for a special assembly.

Members of Bishop’s Stortford’s Royal British Legion, the town’s Armed Forces Veterans’ Breakfast Club and mayor of Bishop’s Stortford, Cllr Richard Townsend, joined students at Thorn Grove Primary to mark D-Day 80
Members of Bishop’s Stortford’s Royal British Legion, the town’s Armed Forces Veterans’ Breakfast Club and mayor of Bishop’s Stortford, Cllr Richard Townsend, joined students at Thorn Grove Primary to mark D-Day 80

Teacher Kathy Canavan has been teaching the children about Tuesday June 6, 1944 and how Operation Neptune, now best known as D-Day, was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The Allied action began the liberation of France and ultimately victory on the Western Front against the Nazis.

She said: “I’ve led the teaching of the events leading up to, throughout and beyond D-Day. This culminated in hosting a special D-Day assembly.

“The children were proud to demonstrate their knowledge of D-Day via the creation of a scaled instalment of the five landing beaches of Normandy on D-Day.”

Youngsters researched the part each of the five beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – played in the D-Day landings
Youngsters researched the part each of the five beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – played in the D-Day landings

The Allies’ target was a 50-mile (80km) stretch of the French coast, divided into five sectors called Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

Kathy said: “The beaches consisted of real sand, hand-crafted fortifications, planes and paratroopers. Each of the landing beaches was extensively researched; the facts, figures and information gathered are displayed at the head of each beach.”

During the assembly, pupils read from D-Day 80 ‘flags’. Devan explained the importance of fish and chips being used as code by British paratroopers landing in enemy territory – and the school’s guests were treated to chocolate fish and chips served in vintage newspaper wrapping!

More poignantly, classmate Leo told them about the British memorial in France which remembers the 22,442 men and women who served in British units and died while taking part in D-Day.

Youngsters built a memorial to those who gave their lives on and after June 6, 1944
Youngsters built a memorial to those who gave their lives on and after June 6, 1944

He reminded everyone how important it was to find out about those people so they are never forgotten.

They include the grandfather of Thorn Grove teacher Karen Le Duc. Danny Shea was the only person from his unit to survive the landing on Omaha Beach. He then found his brother on the beach – and had no idea he had signed up to fight!

The youngsters entertained their guests – and demonstrated their knowledge of life in the 1940s and the music of big band leader Glenn Miller – by performing a swing dance.

D-Day 80 at Thorn Grove School, where pupils took part in a special assembly
D-Day 80 at Thorn Grove School, where pupils took part in a special assembly

They finished by singing and signing Vera Lynn’s wartime hit We’ll Meet Again. It was recorded in 1939 and its words comforted those separated from their loved ones by the conflict.

Kathy said: “The guests were both ‘moved and humbled at the quality of the work and respect demonstrated for the occasion of D-Day 80’.”

In the Mood! Youngsters show off their 1940s swing skills
In the Mood! Youngsters show off their 1940s swing skills
D-Day 80 at Thorn Grove School, where pupils took part in a special assembly
D-Day 80 at Thorn Grove School, where pupils took part in a special assembly

Photos supplied by Thorn Grove Primary School



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