Veteran’s family join D-Day anniversary

George Chapman

George Chapman

First published in News
Last updated

A MOTHER and daughter from Ryedale were among the thousands of people who attended the D-Day 70th Anniversary commemorative events in Normandy last week.

Freda Chapman, whose late husband George was a veteran of the campaign, and her daughter Karen Clayton, who both live in Slingsby, joined members of the York Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association for the four-day visit.

Mr Chapman, who passed away in 2009, was a 20-year-old wireless operator in the 50th Northumbrian Division 231 brigade, when he took part in the invasion on June 6 1944 landing on Gold Beech.

Karen said they had attended the service at the war cemetery at Bayeux which the Queen and Prince Charles attended and later a ceremony honouring the veterans, with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge.

"We also went back to the exact beach where my father landed that day which was incredibly moving, especially when you knew what had happened that morning," she added.

Karen said it had been very emotional for the group of veterans, all now in their eighties and nineties.

"They were determined to get there and the strength of their marching was incredible," she added.

"The thing which struck me was to see the French giving them hugs and kisses along with rounds of applause whenever they passed by."

Karen said: "It was very moving to see people of my generation thanking them for liberating then all those years ago and the outpouring of love and respect for these chaps."

Retired teacher Trevor Boag, from Pickering, who also attended the commemoration, with the Sheffield branch of the Normanby Veterans Association, said it had been a privilege to share the events.

"Seventy years on and the commemorative events were a timely reminder of the need to strive for peace and freedom," he added.

" It was given to the younger generation of the 1940s to invade Europe to secure that peace and that freedom in the face of the Nazi regime. Both we and the current younger generation now enjoy the opportunities to explore Europe and the wider world, sometimes on a backpacking ‘Gap Year’, and at the same age as their grandparents, the Normandy and World War Two Veterans."

Trevor said: "To take our freedoms for granted would be to forget the courage, the sacrifice and the suffering endured by the 1940s generation.

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