Memorial Day

Yesterday was a day for remembering. In April 1943 hundreds of people were moved from their homes in Devon and 30000 acres of land were cleared to allow the US Army to use Slapton Sands to rehearse for D-Day & practice landing troops on beaches that resembled those of Normandy.
On the night of 28th April 1944 Slapton Sands was the site of a tragedy when 8 Landing Ships loaded with US servicemen were attacked with torpedoes by German E-boats that had stumbled across the practice invasion fleet.
Exercise Tiger, meant to make the young men due to land on the beaches of France safer led to the death of 749 soldiers and was commemorated on it’s 69th anniversary to enable two survivors to travel from the US to attend the ceremony held beside a Sherman tank recovered from the sea near Torcross which is used as the memorial to these men.
Much closer to home yesterday was also a day for remembering at the Beachy Head Bomber Command Memorial . The memorial is a tribute to the 55573 members of Bomber Command who lost their lives during World War 2 and was placed on the cliff top overlooking the English Channel to mark what have been the last sight of home for many of the aircrew. I’ve previously posted some pictures of the memorial on my training rides photos page.
Yesterday there was a memorial service attended by Bomber Command Veterans, the team who raised the money for the memorial, local Air Cadets & members of the public. The “mission accomplished” service to commemorate the last mission for Bomber Command, flown on 25th April 1945, the targeting of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest command post. After the service there was a fly past by a Balbo(mixed formation) of aircraft. There was a good turnout of local people & ex services standards to support the memorial service and applaud the fly past despite the strong & cold wind on the exposed clifftop.
It never ceases to amaze & please me that people continue to turn out to pay their respects & support events such as these memorials when the declining numbers of individuals with personal experiences are now too old & frail to attend.
Hopefully lots of people will turn out to support the final leg of the constituent rides that make up the Help for Heroes Hero Ride from Blackheath to the Cenotaph. It’ll be an incredible spectacle and fantastic end to what will be an emotional week for those of who will have ridden from Paris & visited countless other memorials, some to unknown many & others to an identified few en route.
Near the Bomber Command Memorial is a stone compass rose embedded in the ground showing distances from Eastbourne to various places including Paris & London. Unfortunately our route won’t be straight but it will be rewarding especially if it raises a huge amount for a fantastic charity which helps the injured servicemen who will be attending memorials to their fallen comrades for years to come.
Don’t forget you can donate here or by texting BBBR51 ¬£2 to 70070
Thanks for reading
Simon

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PS
The Beachy Head memorial was lifted into place by the Chinook in case you were wondering about it’s random inclusion in the photos illustrating this post !

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