Wigan will remember them

WIGAN will turn the clock back 70 years to remember the crucial events of D-Day during World War Two today.

The town centre will be transformed by wartime memorabilia in commemoration of the operations which saw thousands of Allied troops land on the beaches of Normandy to begin the fightback against Nazi Germany in 1944.

D-Day celebrations, Market Place, Wigan:  Spitfire

D-Day celebrations, Market Place, Wigan: Spitfire

Six hours of activities and displays will be put on in Market Place and organisers will be hoping for a repeat of the 2013 celebrations which saw huge crowds gather under glorious blue skies to remember D-Day.

The centrepiece display will be a Spitfire plane, while there will also be a number of World War Two military vehicles and aircraft engines for residents to see as well as exhibitions of everyday equipment and wartime memorabilia.

Veterans’ groups and military organisations from across the borough will take part in the commemorations, with the event starting at 10.30am with a pipe and drum marching band leading the procession of Royal British Legion standards from Standishgate to Wigan Parish Church, where they will be joined by children from nearby schools.

The Legion will also have exhibitions at the commemorations, while the Army and Royal Air Force will also be involved in the day of celebration.

Brian Fenton, president of the Wigan town branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “I think it’s very important to remember all this, especially for the young children who need to know what these people gave their lives for.

“There’s a lot of families in Wigan whose relations never came home, and we should remember that for the families who are left.

“It’s also a chance to make people aware of our armed forces, because I don’t think we could manage without them.”

The event will be held 70 years to the day that soldiers landed in France for the start of Operation Overlord, which became one of the most important milestone moments in the history of the war.

More than 100,000 British, American and Canadian soldiers landed on five Normandy beaches, codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, on the morning of June 6, 1944 in the first stage of Allied plans to end the German occupation of much of western Europe. Thousands of troops were also parachuted into France to land behind enemy lines, while more than 7,000 ships and 11,000 aircraft supported the invasion.