A memorial to commemorate those who died under British command on D-Day (6 June 1944) and the subsequent Battle of Normandy (codename Operation Overlord) will open on a site overlooking one of the beaches where the troops landed in France next month (October), although the official opening will not take place until June next year.
The original plan was to have completed the building of the memorial by this month (September), but work came to a halt during the Covid-19 pandemic and will not now be completed till October.
The British Normandy Memorial bears the names of 22,442 British personnel and those serving under British command who died establishing a European mainland bridgehead that led to the end of World War II.
The memorial is the largest yet produced by the collaboration of architect Liam O’Connor and stonemason S McConnell & Sons in Northern Ireland. Their previous collaborations include the Portland limestone Armed Forces Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, and the Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park, London, also in Portland stone.
This time the stone used is the French limestone Massengis and about 3,500 tonnes of it. The 22,442 inscriptions on the Normandy Memorial might still not be everyone who died in the battle, although the Normandy Memorial Trust, which is behind the memorial, ensures the list is complete.
The British sculptor David Williams-Ellis, whose father was a wartime lieutenant in the Royal Navy commanding a motor torpedo boat that supported the Normandy operation, was commissioned to create the ‘D-Day Sculpture’ that occupies a prominent position at the centre of the memorial.
The site selected for the memorial is a ﬁeld overlooking ‘Gold Beach’ in the town of Ver-sur-Mer, quite close to the location where CSM Stan Hollis of the 6th Green Howards won the only D-Day Victoria Cross.
The Normandy Memorial Trust harnessed George’s long-held passion and, with HRH The Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) as Royal Patron and Lord Ricketts as Chairman, along with many other venerable trustees, secured a commitment from the UK Government to construct the powerful and inspiring statement in Normandy to honour the fallen.
Designed by architect Liam O’Connor and installed by S McConnell & Sons, along with the French main contractor Eiffage, this world-class memorial is an impressive tribute to the British sacrifice involved in liberating Europe from the brutal rule of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi fascists.
For more information on this project, click here