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
LORD RICKETTS APPOINTED CHAIRMANPeter Ricketts, the former British ambassador to France, has been appointed to the Chairmanship of The Normandy Memorial Trust. At a meeting of trustees in London on 28th March, Lord Ricketts said he was delighted to take on the leadership of what he called this "exciting project".
He paid tribute to the "drive and vision" of Normandy Veteran George Batts, the originator of the plan for the Memorial, who now moves from a place on the board of trustees to the role of "Patron".
Lord Ricketts brings to the trust his years of experience of dealing at the highest levels with governments in both Britain and France. He was the UK's ambassador in Paris from 2012 to 2016. Before that he was Britain's National Security Adviser (2010-2012) and prior to that he was the Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2006-2010).
Three other new trustees were elected to the board: Lord Robin Janvrin, the former Private Secretary to Her Majesty the Queen; General Sir Peter Wall, the former head of the British army and strategic communications specialist, David McDonough.
They join founding trustees Nicholas Witchell and the Curator of the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth,
Lord Ricketts told trustees that they now had the task of delivering a memorial to "a very high standard on a very tight timescale."