With national and international focus upon the beaches of Normandy on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, Pembrokeshire’s key contributions to the Invasion of Occupied Europe on 6th June 1944 were particularly remembered in special events at Pembroke Dock.
The recently opened Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre in the Royal Dockyard Chapel staged two days of D-Day Anniversary events – on Friday and Saturday – which attracted many hundreds of visitors.
A very varied programme included talks, films and items for younger visitors, co-ordinated by the Sunderland Trust which runs the Heritage Centre. This was staged thanks to the total involvement of the Trust’s 70-strong Volunteer Team.
Special displays were created for the anniversary, telling personal stories of soldiers and airmen who took part in the D-Day landings and subsequent campaigns. Some of these servicemen tragically paid the supreme sacrifice.
One of the star exhibits was a diorama of an invasion beach, made by Colin Taylor of Hereford. This very detailed model has been generously donated to the Sunderland Trust for display at the Dockyard Chapel.
The ‘Friendly Invasion’ by American units in the run up to D-Day was recalled thanks to the researches of volunteers, and memories of both US personnel and Pembrokeshire residents who remembered the GIs were compelling. And the RAF flying boat operations from Pembroke Dock to support the Invasion were also recalled.
A book entitled ‘The Friendly Invasion’, researched and written by Volunteer Gareth Mills, was launched at the weekend and is available from the Heritage Centre.
Very popular was the showing of the ‘Exercise Jantzen’ film, of a 1943 D-Day trial on the south Pembrokeshire coastline, and a unique colour film of Sunderlands at Pembroke Dock just before the outbreak of the war.
Outside the Chapel there were displays by the Penfro Model Group, many members being Sunderland Trust Volunteers, and by 14 Signal Regiment at Cawdor Barracks, Brawdy, who are excellent supporters of Pembroke Dock heritage events.
Vintage vehicles included wartime Jeeps and a beautifully restored David Brown tractor which saw wartime service at Dale Royal Naval Air Station.
On Saturday morning a Service of Remembrance was held in the Chapel – led by retired Royal Navy Chaplain the Rev Michael Brotherton of Angle. Among the large gathering was the Mayor of Pembroke Dock, Councillor Pam George.
Over the weekend around 50 members and friends of the Coastal Command and Maritime Air Association – long supporters of the Sunderland Trust – attended their annual reunion at Pembroke Dock. CCMAA’s annual dinner at the Cleddau Bridge Hotel was attended by the Mayor and several guests, including Alastair and Marion Walker of Dale who own the superbly restored Seaplane Tender No 441. This wartime RAF marine craft was moored alongside Hobbs Point on both days and several private trips on the Haven were made for CCMAA members and friends, and former Air Sea Rescue and Marine Craft personnel who were attending the reunion.
Those who missed the D-Day 70th Anniversary events at Pembroke Dock will be pleased to know that the displays will remain on view at the Heritage Centre for some weeks.
The Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre is open Mondays to Saturdays inclusive, 10 am to 4 pm daily. It links to the Sunderland Trust’s very popular Flying Boat Centre which is also open on Tuesdays to Saturdays inclusive.
For further information contact: 01646 684220