D-Day 80: Blazing beacons bring D-Day 80 commemorations to an end

Blazing beacons lit across the Skegness area as part of the 80th anniversary of D-Day commemorations brought ceremonies paying tribute to the brave who liberated Normandy in the Second World War to an end.

Crowds gathered for the beacon lighting on the sand banks near the Lifeboat Station in Skegness at 9.15pm last night (Thursday, June 6) – at the same time beacons were lit in France on all the five beaches involved in the brutal battle that led to the defeat of German Nazi forces.

Tracey Turner, Poppy Appeal organiser for the Skegness branch of the Royal British Legion, described it as a “very fitting end to a really, really emotional time.”

Nationwide June 6 2024 began at 6.30am with the Proclamation. In Skegness a second D-Day 80 Flag of Peace, in addition to the one in Tower Gardens, was raised at 9am at the memorial outside St Matthew’s Church, followed by wreath laying and a service of remembrance.

In the evening young and old came together once more in Lagoon Walk to honour the brave, veterans of all wars and those involved in modern day conflict.

Codenamed Operation Neptune, the D-Day landings made up the largest seaborne invasion in history.

An estimated 4,440 Allied troops were confirmed dead, according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with more than 5,800 troops wounded or missing.died on that day. Over 150,000 lives were lost before Normandy was liberated.

Mayor of Skegness Coun Adrian Findley, who is also a member of the Royal British Legion, raised the Flag of Peace at St Matthew’s Church and later lit the beacon on the beach.

He said: “It was an honour to raise the National Flag of Peace with the nation on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

”We are are also delighted so many joined us for the beacon lighting on the beach.”

Paul Dixon, chairman of the Skegness area branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “It is important that we remember – we wouldn’t be here and free if it hadn’t been for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”

Giant poppies have been placed back on lampposts in towns and villages, including Burgh le Marsh – which many people may not realise played a special part in the commemorations nationwide. The official D-Day 80 Flag of Peace has been produced by local firm Newton Newton Flag & Banner Maker and 2,000 have been dispatched all over the UK.

Tracy Turner, who is also a director at the family firm, said she was very proud to have played such a huge part in the historic day. "It’s been an exceptionally proud 48 hours,” she said. “We have been producing D-Day flags solidly sunce February and we have done over 2,300 of those.

"Yesterday (Wednesday) over on Normandy the had the Royal British Legion national standard which are the ones we did earlier in the year;

"I have just come back from the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA )for the Legion ceremony and that was very humbling – with 26 D-Day veterans there.

"So it has been a really emotional time.”

Burgh le Marsh is flying the Flag of Peace and also has a stunning display of poppies on camouflage netting in the Market Place which is being appreciated by thousands. A large crowd gathered for the lighting of the beacon on Cock Hill in the evening.

At Wainfleet St Mary, a D Day remembrance service took place at the Buttercross in Wainfleet Market Place, where wreaths were also laid at the memorial, including by pupils from the Magdalen Church of England Primary School in Skegness. A beacon was also lit in Wainfleet.

Standard bearer Kevin Woolley who attended ceremonies in Skegness, ended: “The whole day has been so humbling. As a veteran myself I have been thinking what must have been going through those boys minds – they were so young as we were all were when we fought.

"But to see what they did was immense.

"Every time I think about it I go go numb and feel tense.

"It’s a beautiful thing that they did what they needed to do and just got on with it.

"I feel proud as punch to be holding the Standard – it’s something you can’t really say.”

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