Veterans pay tribute to pals lost on longest day

Published date: 09 June 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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VETERANS of the D-Day landings paid tribute to fallen comrades at their last annual Wrexham memorial to mark the battles known as the “Longest Day”.

Members of Wrexham’s Normandy Veterans Association gathered for a commemorative service at the Wrexham Memorial Hall on Bodhyfryd on Friday morning.

Ten surviving members of the association took part in the service along with members of the public.

It coincided with the Queen, US President Barack Obama and other heads of state marking the 70th anniversary with memorial events in France. Friday’s poignant event will be the Wrexham association’s last service as it will soon disband due to the dwindling number of members as more D-Day veterans pass away.

One of the members present on Friday was Brian Castell, an ex-serviceman originally from Suffolk but who has lived in North Wales for more than 50 years.

The 89-year-old Llay resident took part in the landings in the infantry division of the Royal Armoured Corps, landing on Juno Beach in Normandy at 10.30am on June 6, 1944.  He said: “It’s a terrible thing to remember. I lost a few mates.

“Though I’ve been back across to France five times and found some of their headstones – I thought that was very nice.

“I should have gone over to France again this year, but I wasn’t up to it.”

A member of the Prestatyn branch of the Normandy Veterans Association, he said it was a “bittersweet” memorial service, knowing it was the association’s last.
Kevin Forbes, fundraiser for the Royal British Legion, said the event had been a success.

Later on Friday, a special BBC D-Day 70 Years On concert – performed at The Royal Albert Hall – was screened at the Odeon Cinema in Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre.

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