Shropshire Star

Church bells to ring in D-Day commemorations

A town will be hosting a series of commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

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The bells of St Mary’s parish church in Ellesmere will ring out for peace on Thursday as part of the event, with local schoolchildren and armed forces veterans among those taking part in the June 6 evening service – which will culminate in the lighting of a beacon outside the church.

The event has been organised by the church in partnership with Ellesmere Town Council and the Royal British Legion.

The Vicar of Ellesmere, the Rev Pat Hawkins said: "St Mary's Church is pleased to be hosting Ellesmere's commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

"As we pay tribute to those who bore the cost of the peace and freedom which we enjoy, we are reminded not to take those things for granted and to prayerfully commit ourselves to building a future which honours the legacy of the past.”

The church bell-ringers will join other teams around the UK in a nationwide ‘ring out for peace’ from 6.30pm.

This will be followed at 7.30pm by a wreath-laying ceremony and a minutes’ silence and Last Post in front of the Ellesmere war memorial, within the churchyard.

Wreaths will be laid by the Mayor, Councillor Graham Hutchinson, and the president of the local branch of the Royal British Legion, Ian Williams, who is also county branch chairman.

The commemoration, led by the vicar, continues inside the church at 7.45pm, with readings and poems by pupils from Ellesmere primary school and students from Lakelands Academy, and music by the Porthywaen Silver Band.

Refreshments will be available before a beacon is lit outside the church at 9.15pm to coincide with the lighting of similar ‘beacons for peace’ around the UK and on the beaches of Normandy.

Legion branch chairman Bob McBride said: “The D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, saw the largest sea-borne military invasion in history. It involved more than 150,000 troops from eight Allied countries crossing the English Channel on nearly seven thousand ships, with another 24,000 men landing by parachute and glider.

"It literally changed the course of the Second World War beginning with the liberation of France after four years of occupation by Nazi Germany – and it led to the downfall of Hitler eleven months later.

“Without the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we enjoy today, so it’s is only right that on this landmark anniversary, we remember and give thanks for all that they did for us.

"Everyone in Ellesmere and district is welcome to come along to St Mary’s and join in this special anniversary commemoration.”