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Bishop's Stortford D-Day veteran Cyril Banks to take part in 75th anniversary events in Normandy

Veterans, from left, Cyril Banks, Peter Cullen and the late Norman Snook (10521406)
Veterans, from left, Cyril Banks, Peter Cullen and the late Norman Snook (10521406)

A Bishop’s Stortford veteran of D-Day will be taking part in events in Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of the landings.

Cyril Banks, 93, served with the Royal Navy aboard minesweeper HMS Ready in the Atlantic Ocean and English Channel from 1943 to 1944.

In 2012 he was presented with the Legion d'Honneur by France for clearing mines for the Allied forces' Normandy beach landings on June 6, 1944.

Cyril Banks as a young man in his Royal Navy days
Cyril Banks as a young man in his Royal Navy days

Codenamed Operation Overlord, the landings marked the start of a combined sea, air and land assault by the Allies and a drawn-out campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.

Mr Banks helped clear the way for the landings on Gold Beach. The other landings were at Utah, Omaha, Juno and Sword beaches.

More than 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the battle, including over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead among the ground troops and 16,714 deaths among the Allied air forces.

Events to commemorate the 75th anniversary are being held in Normandy and around the UK. Portsmouth, from where much of the landing force sailed in 1944, will be the focal point of UK commemorations and will host a national event on Wednesday June 5.

Just before sunset, MV Boudicca, a specially-chartered ship for 300 Normandy veterans funded by the Royal British Legion and a grant from the Treasury, will transport the veterans across the Channel to Normandy, escorted by a Royal Navy vessel, representing their famous crossing 75 years before.

The key events are an inauguration at the site of the Normandy Memorial Trust’s British Normandy Memorial and Royal British Legion services at Bayeux Cathedral and Bayeux Cemetery, concluding with an evening of music and entertainment beside the beaches in Arromanches.

After he returns from Normandy, Mr Banks will help the Bishop’s Stortford branch of the Royal British Legion pay a poignant tribute to those who bravely sacrificed so much to defeat the Nazis.

A wreath-laying ceremony will be held at the war memorial in Castle Gardens on Sunday, June 9 from 11am. All are welcome and D-Day 75 crosses will be available.

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