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D-Day 80: Solemn commemoration and musical fish-and-chip celebration in Castle Park on the evening of Thursday June 6





Castle Park will be the focus of Bishop’s Stortford’s D-Day commemorations on June 6 – with 1940s music and fish and chips.

The town’s Royal British Legion branch will lead tributes to the Allied forces who, 80 years ago, mounted the largest amphibious invasion the world has ever witnessed and changed the Second World War.

Operation Overlord, as the invasion was known, claimed the lives of more than 209,000 Allied casualties. Their bravery and sacrifice will be at the heart of the commemoration in Stortford and across the country and Commonwealth.

Save the date: D-Day’s 80th anniversary on Thursday June 6
Save the date: D-Day’s 80th anniversary on Thursday June 6

East Herts district and Bishop’s Stortford town councils have been working with the Legion to create a fitting tribute for all residents to enjoy on Thursday June 6, from 6.30pm.

The commemoration in Castle Park will begin with a peal of bells at St Michael’s Church in Windhill.

Bishop’s Stortford Band will play a 30-minute set before handing over to The Rockabellas, touted as today’s answer to The Andrews Sisters, who epitomised the 1940s swinging big band era. The vintage vocal trio were praised by “Forces’ Sweetheart” Dame Vera Lynn for the authenticity of their performance.

The Rockabellas
The Rockabellas

Like the town band, they will perform twice during the evening before representatives of Bishop’s Stortford secondary and primary schools, co-ordinated by Thorn Grove teacher Kathy Canavan, recite poetry at the war memorial.

The youngsters will perform the D-Day Heroes verse composed by Roy Palmer, a Chelsea Pensioner, as Royal British Legion officials, civic dignitaries, Armed Forces veterans and army and air cadets muster for an Act of Remembrance and wreath-laying.

Legion branch president John Robinson will lead the commemoration, reciting the Exhortation. The Last Post, played by the town band’s trumpeter, will signal the start of a two-minute silence before Reveille is played and Mr Robinson recites the Kohima Epitaph: “When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”

At 9.15pm, the International 80th Anniversary D-Day Beacon will be lit, joining a nationwide chain, and Mr Robinson will deliver the International Tribute.

Royal British Legion president John Robinson at Bishop’s Stortford’s Remembrance Sunday service. Pic: Vikki Lince
Royal British Legion president John Robinson at Bishop’s Stortford’s Remembrance Sunday service. Pic: Vikki Lince

As well as the solemn commemoration, the Castle Park event is a celebration with fish and chips offering a traditional treat.

The dish was never rationed during the war and “fish and chips” was used as code by British paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines to identify friendly soldiers nearby.

National Fish and Chip Day usually falls on the first Friday in June, but this year it has been brought forward to Thursday to coincide with the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

National Fish and Chip Day usually falls on the first Friday in June, but this year it has been brought forward to Thursday to coincide with the 80th anniversary of D-Day
National Fish and Chip Day usually falls on the first Friday in June, but this year it has been brought forward to Thursday to coincide with the 80th anniversary of D-Day

As well as a mobile fish and chip outlet in the park, there will be a bar and ice creams on sale.

Families are urged to take blankets and chairs to Castle Park so they can enjoy the whole evening in comfort.

Operation Overlord begins
Operation Overlord begins

WHAT WAS D-DAY?

By 1944, more than two million troops from 12 countries were in Britain preparing for the D-Day invasion. On June 6, British, American and Canadian troops plus personnel from Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Southern Rhodesia were ready to mobilise.

Soon after midnight, more than 180,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped into the invasion area and Allied air crews flew 14,674 sorties to support the landings.

Bishop’s Stortford D-Day hero, the late Cyril Banks
Bishop’s Stortford D-Day hero, the late Cyril Banks

Around 132,500 troops in around 4,000 ships and landing craft arrived on five Normandy beaches –codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword – to liberate north-west Europe from the Nazis. They included Bishop’s Stortford’s Royal Navy hero Cyril Banks, who passed away in 2022.

Operation Overlord claimed over 209,000 Allied casualties including nearly 37,000 ground forces and 16,714 air forces killed in the beach invasion and the brutal campaign that followed.



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