Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Normandy town stages a day of events to mark the 70th anniversary of its freedom from Nazi occupation
Fifteen members of the Lyme Regis/Barfleur Twinning Association crossed The Channel at the weekend to join hundreds of French families as they celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Normandy town’s liberation.
It was 70 years to the day on Saturday that American troops drove into town to free the Barfleurais from Nazi occupation.
And just as on June 21, 1944, a convoy of American jeeps, sirens wailing and horns blaring, drove through the streets of Barfleur to the harbour to a tumultuous welcome.
Only this time the jeeps were driven by French members of a local military vehicle preservation club in full American uniform.
The Lyme Regis group were invited to spend the weekend joining the celebrations and staying with local families, who are members of the Barfleur Twinning Association.
As they arrived last Friday they were met at the harbourside of the French fishing port by flag-waving members of the Barfleur association.
Highlight of the weekend was Saturday, a day of ceremony, celebration and solemnity.
Hundreds, including the Lyme Regis group, with Richard Doney as standard bearer, attended an outdoor thanksgiving service at St Nicolas church alongside the harbour.
In his address the Mayor, Michel Mauger, welcomed the Dorset contingent and praised the town’s American liberators along with British and Canadian troops.
Saturday’s events continued with a classic car parade – including Lyme Regis twinner Sheila Poupard and Mike Overfield-Collins in Sheila’s 1963 Sunbeam Alpine sports car.
Then there was music from a local band, visits to the historic lifeboat station, which was the first in France in 1865, an open air dance and a celebration meal for twinners to round off the day.
Lyme Regis twinning chairman John Dover told dinner guests how hundreds of U.S. troops were based in the Dorset town in advance of D-day.
He said it was an honour for Lyme Regis to share the liberation celebrations and it was ‘fitting and appropriate’ that both communities were now joined in a new partnership of friendship.
Next event planned by the Lyme Regis twinning group is a barbecue and boule afternoon to mark Bastille Day in the chairman’s garden in Somers Road.
The event, starting at noon on Sunday July 13, is to raise funds for the association.
Anyone interested in attending should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07769 655362.