The British Normandy Memorial design revealed5 June 2018 The design for The British Normandy Memorial has been unveiled by the Normandy Memorial Trust. The memorial will honour the more than 22,000 soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who died fighting under British command during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. It has been designed by British architect Liam O’Connor and features a significant landscape setting with a central 'memorial court' and a 'cloister garden' formed by stone piers onto which the names of those who died will be inscribed. A “D-Day Sculpture” by British sculptor David Williams-Ellis has been commissioned by the Trust and will be one of the centre-pieces of the memorial park’s official inauguration. The memorial will stand on a commanding site overlooking 'Gold Beach' near the town of Ver-sur-Mer. It was along this coastline that thousands of troops under British command landed on 6th June 1944. The Ver-sur-Mer site was the overwhelming choice of veterans consulted by the Trust. The task of compiling the Roll of Honour of names for inscription on the British Normandy Memorial has been an original piece of historical research undertaken by the trust. The names of all those who lost their lives under British command on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy have never, until now, been brought together. The Trust has been seeking to realise the dream of D-Day Veteran George Batts for Britain finally to have its own national memorial. In March 2017 the Trust secured a commitment from the UK Government to provide core finance for the memorial from the LIBOR fund. The trust is cooperating closely with the French planning authorities to secure the necessary building permissions for the memorial. As soon as these are in place, the Trust will begin work on the site, with the aim of making as much progress as possible for the 75th anniversary of D-Day on 6 June 2019. In a Foreword to the Trust's brochure, the Prince of Wales has described the British Normandy Memorial as "long overdue". He says the memorial will provide a place where visitors will be able to "reflect on what we owe to all those who so gallantly carried out their duty with such extraordinary selflessness and resolve." Today the Trust also launches a fundraising campaign to assist with the completion of the memorial and the wider project to ensure that Britain's sacrifice on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy is never forgotten. Among the Trust's plans are the development of educational facilities so generations of the future can understand the profound significance of the United Kingdom's contribution to securing Europe's freedoms. Trust Patron, D-Day veteran George Batts MBE Leg d’Hon, said: "The British government has given us a fantastic start in funding terms – but to deliver the complete memorial project to match those of other nations we will need to go further. It is my greatest wish and that of other Veterans to see this project completed in our lifetimes. If the remembrance of what was done on the D-Day beaches matters to you we would be so grateful for your support." Chairman of the Normandy Memorial Trust, Lord Peter Ricketts, said: "As British Ambassador to France, I saw at first hand the extraordinary level of interest every year in the commemorations of the Battle of Normandy. The determination of the Veterans to be present, and to salute the memory of fallen comrades, was deeply moving. So too was the fact that growing numbers of young people of many nationalities came to learn of the courage and sacrifice of those who fought for the liberation of Normandy, and of the suffering of French civilians. When I learned of the proposal from the Veteran community for a British national memorial, I was convinced that this was the way to help future generations understand the scale of the sacrifice, and the values at stake in the Battle of Normandy." The Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt. Hon Gavin Williamson MP said: “I am delighted to be lending my wholehearted support to this important project, to establish the British Normandy Memorial. It is a remarkable thing that there is no single British memorial which brings together the names of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice in Normandy in the summer of 1944. It is time that omission was corrected before the last of those indomitable Veterans of Normandy have departed. I commend this project to you and hope, if you can, you will support it.” The British Normandy Memorial architect Liam O’Connor said: “My hope and belief is that this stone memorial in this carefully landscaped setting will create a compelling place of beauty. It will be a place where, for many generations to come, people will be able to come to remember and reflect." At the United Kingdom-France summit at Sandhurst in January 2018, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May committed to attending the inauguration of the project in June 2019 as part of the commemorations to mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy Campaign. Go here to find out more about our fundraising campaign and to donate.
PUBLIC MEETING BEGINS FORMAL CONSULTATION PROCESS
The trust's proposals for the British Normandy Memorial were explained in detail to the citizens of Ver-sur-Mer at a public meeting on 27th March.
About 180 local people attended the meeting which was chaired by the sous-Prefet of Bayeux, Vincent Ferrier and the Mayor of Ver-sur-Mer, Philippe Onillon.
Monsieur Ferrier explained that the meeting was the beginning of a detailed consultation process with the local community.
Trust Chairman Lord Peter Ricketts explained that the Ver-sur-Mer site had been the choice of Veterans who hoped to see the memorial built in their lifetimes. He stressed that the trust was keen to hear the views of local people and to work as closely as possible with them.
Concerns were expressed about the impact of the memorial project on the town. Questions were asked about visitor numbers; the level of traffic disturbance which might be expected and the planned move of the town’s football pitch.
But then one local resident, M. Claude Boivinet declared that it would be an honour for the town
to host the memorial.
"Thank you for choosing Ver-sur-Mer" he said. His words were greeted with a
spontaneous round of applause.
The public meeting will now be followed b y a serious of smaller "workshop" meetings dealing with different aspects of the memorial project.
At the same time the detailed work continues to comply with the many French planning
and environmental regulations.
Ver-sur-Mer’s mayor Philippe Onillon said the process would be closely followed so that
everything was done properly.
Summit Support for MemorialPresident Emanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May pledged their support for the British Normandy Memorial at the United Kingdom-France summit meeting at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst on 18th January. The official summit communique contained the following paragraph: “We will support the Normandy Memorial Trust in their work to build a Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer commemorating the more than 22,000 who fell while serving under British command in the Battle of Normandy in 1944. The President and Prime Minister will together attend the inauguration of the project in June 2019 as part of the commemorations to mark the 75th Anniversary of the operation.” Trust chairman Lord Peter Ricketts said: “We very much welcome the explicit declaration of support for the Memorial by the President and the Prime Minister. The trust continues to work closely with the French authorities on the planning requirements at the spectacular site for the Memorial overlooking “Gold Beach” at Ver-sur-Mer.”
How the Roll of Honour was createdIn my role as Lead Historical Researcher I have had the privilege of researching the names of those to be listed on the Normandy memorial. The war dead most commonly associated with the Battle of Normandy are of course those who are buried or commemorated in that region of France. However through this research, the Trust has been able to add to this list the names of many people who up to now have not been obviously connected to the Battle, for example because they are buried or commemorated in the UK or other countries. These include, for example, some personnel who were lost at sea while en route to Normandy, or sailors and airmen who were killed while patrolling to protect the sea routes to France.
The starting point was the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) who supplied us with lists of all those killed during the period of the Battle to be covered by the memorial, namely 5th June and 31st August 1944. Starting in April 2017, I have received over 53,000 names. Some were easy – anyone who died in theatres of war other than Europe were not eligible and those serving in units listed in the British 21st Army Group Normandy Order of Battle and were buried in France were clearly eligible for inclusion. However, many others were uncertain, for example those in units listed in the Order of Battle but who died in the UK – I had to ascertain if they had died of wounds after being repatriated back to Britain.
The RAF expended much effort supporting the Battle but to be able to ascertain if a sortie was a Normandy-related operation, as opposed to targets in Germany and elsewhere, I needed to check the Operation Record Book for each squadron. Royal Navy and Merchant Navy sources also needed to be checked as the CWGC record does not show where vessels were at the time of the death of the casualty, and the record was often for their memorial commemoration as the person has no known grave.
Web sources proved a real boon as there is much research that has been done already to help inform the decision. They were especially useful when researching details of French commandos serving under British Command as they aren’t listed by the CWGC.
I couldn’t have done it without help and thanks go to Steve, Caroline and Andrew who helped with some of the research. Many fascinating stories have revealed themselves, some of which I hope to share over the course of the memorial project.
Search the Roll of Honour. Jane Furlong Lead Historical Researcher Normandy Memorial Trust