PEOPLE around Swindon joined the world in remembering the sacrifices and heroism of the soldiers of the D-Day landings, 70 years ago yesterday.
At The Shop in Cavendish Square with the help of charity shop Restore, a spread of corned beef sandwiches, jelly, cake and tea in china cups and saucers was put on as part of the commemorations.
Food was donated by the Co-Op and the Steam museum leant posters and bunting dating back to the time to hang from the walls.
There was also a display of artefacts from the time donated by the Defence College in Shrivenham.
Dorothy Brown, manager at The Shop, said: “It’s been really good. We had about 30 people come along and enjoy themselves during the afternoon.
“A couple of the people who had been in the war also stood up and spoke about their experiences.
“There is a great sense of community in the area and I think it stems from that time. Many of the older people here came here with their families when they moved here from London in the Second World War and just stayed.”
Ian Howard, project manager at Restore, said that it was important to remember the sacrifices made all those years ago.
He said: “I think we are trying to build community here and get people out of their houses. Hopefully now that we have done this one we can make it bigger and better next time.
“I think it’s important to mark this history, especially as people get older, and we need to make sure we carry it on. We also need to make sure the young people understand and so they can carry it on.”
During the week, thousands of people, including some of the ever-decreasing number of D-Day veterans, flocked to beaches, cemeteries and villages linked to the landings in northern France.
Among them was Ken Scott from Royal Wootton Bassett.
It was a particularly poignant occasion for the 98-year-old since it is the last time he and his fellow veterans in the Wiltshire Normandy Veterans Association will return to the spot.
Ken fought on Gold Beach as an infantry sergeant with the Durham Light Infantry, and recalled the day he started out to the Normandy coast in 1944.
He said: “I don’t know to this day what port we left from, nobody told us where we were, they just told us to get on the boat. We set off and it wasn’t so choppy, but some boys were sick.
“We all had a smoke because we were frightened to death. The thing pulled up, there was a beach, the craft opened and you just had to go.
“You just ran like hell up the beach to get some cover.”
At the Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy,heads of state, senior clergy and other dignitaries from around the world gathered for what was one of the two official Anglo-French D-Day commemoration ceremonies.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall also attended, along with David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband and about 400 Commonwealth troops.
In a message in the official D-Day brochure, the Queen said: “I am very pleased to be able to join veterans here in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
“On June 6, 1944, after months of planning and training, the largest amphibious assault in history was launched to secure freedom in Europe. This immense and heroic endeavour brought the end of the Second World War within reach.
“I am sure that these commemorations will provide veterans of the conflict and their families gathered here in France, along with their hosts, the people of Normandy, with an opportunity to reflect on their experiences and the incredible sacrifices that were made.”