Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre
Reporter Lisa Chapman
On 4th June, 1940, Sir Winston Churchill spoke the following infamous words:
“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France …….
We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds……….”
Exactly four years later on 6th June, 1944 (now commonly known as D-Day) nearly 160,000 troops of the Allied Land Forces did precisely that, landing on the beaches of Normandy in amphibious vessels to begin the long awaited liberation of Europe, along with American and British paratroopers who had been dropped only hours before behind the beaches to disrupt German communications.
Today, on 7th June, 2009, sixty five years later, we pay tribute to those exceptional, mostly inexperienced, young men who bravely fought for their country and remember the thousands who sadly sacrificed their lives.
Yourthurrock visited the Purfleet Heritage and Military Centre to join in the D-Day celebrations. The day began with speeches and a one minute silence during which the haunting Last Post was played. The museum was open and well worth a visit and the guests could look forward to a flypast in the early afternoon along with a re-enactment of the taking of Pegasus Bridge. Many of the organisers and guests were dressed in 1940s costumes and were enjoying a sing-along in the sunshine while it lasted.
It is thanks to places like this that the horrors of the two World Wars are not buried and forgotten and for me it was an honour and privilege to spend time with these brave, humble veterans but not surprising to find that, even after all these years, they are not particularly comfortable to talk about what happened that day.