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'They fought to give us liberty' - How one Norfolk town commemorated D-Day 75

PUBLISHED: 15:51 09 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 09 June 2019

Members of the Allied Star Reenactment Group at the North Walsham D-Day commemoration, from left, Aby and Neil Hannant, Mark Bishop, Richard Harvey, Reuben Harvey, Kathryn Larke (top right) and Natasha Ashley-Griffth. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Members of the Allied Star Reenactment Group at the North Walsham D-Day commemoration, from left, Aby and Neil Hannant, Mark Bishop, Richard Harvey, Reuben Harvey, Kathryn Larke (top right) and Natasha Ashley-Griffth. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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Tribute was paid to the bravery of the men and women involved in D-Day at a commemoration in North Walsham.

Aby Hannant from the Allied Star Reenactment Group, second from left, with children Dakota, 8 and Quinn, with Ellen Arteton-Monro and her children Lily, 8 and Thomas, 11, at the North Walsham D-Day commemoration. Picture: Stuart AndersonAby Hannant from the Allied Star Reenactment Group, second from left, with children Dakota, 8 and Quinn, with Ellen Arteton-Monro and her children Lily, 8 and Thomas, 11, at the North Walsham D-Day commemoration. Picture: Stuart Anderson

The town centre hosted the event on Sunday, following the 75th anniversary of the first Allied landings in Normandy during the Second World War on June 6, 1944.

Families turned out in force to inspect about 20 vintage jeeps, lorries and other vehicles lined up along Church Street, while activities such as face painting for children took place in St Nicholas church yard next door.

Jenny Melville, chairman of the organising committee, said she was delighted with the response to the one-off event.

Mrs Melville said: "We are here today to commemorate the people that fought and lost their lives to give us the liberty and freedom we have today. There are only a few of the veterans left now so this is the last big anniversary they'll have.

Tom Read, left, and David Bilverstone from the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group in a 1984 Land Rover at the North Walsham D-Day commemoration. Picture: Stuart AndersonTom Read, left, and David Bilverstone from the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group in a 1984 Land Rover at the North Walsham D-Day commemoration. Picture: Stuart Anderson

"It's important that the history was there and all ages can interact with it."

Members of the Norfolk-wide Allied Star Reenactment Group were among visitors there dressed in period uniform. Some of their number, dressed as soldiers, put on a display, firing blanks with antique weapons such as the Lee-Enfield rifle and the Sten, which one member described as the "cheap and cheerful machine gun of the Second World War".

Ellen Arteton-Munro, from North Walsham, took her children Lily, eight, and Thomas, 11, to see the commemoration.

Lily said an antique music box that was part of Allied Star's display was her highlight, while Thomas said he was fascinated by everything to do with the war.

The North Walsham D-Day commemoration took place in Church Street and the church yard next door. Picture: Stuart AndersonThe North Walsham D-Day commemoration took place in Church Street and the church yard next door. Picture: Stuart Anderson

Mrs Arteton-Munro said: "It's lovely to see it all come together. It's very interesting and I think it's important for the children to see. It's very hands on."

Liz Anderson, vice-chairman of the Norfolk Military Vehicle Group, said: "It's nice to see the town come together for this.

"There's been a lot of people coming around and looking at the vehicles and going in and out of them. Most of these vehicles are owned by people who live around North Walsham."

Bunting made by pupils from North Walsham Junior School in Manor Road was hung throughout the churchyard, and the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and Norfolk police both had stalls in the yard. There was also a band playing wartime songs in the White Swan pub.

At the North Walsham D-Day commemoration were, were from Terry and Angie Benjafield, Robert and Cate Purdy, Ruby Cannell, 9, and parents Gordon and Vee Cannell. Picture: Stuart AndersonAt the North Walsham D-Day commemoration were, were from Terry and Angie Benjafield, Robert and Cate Purdy, Ruby Cannell, 9, and parents Gordon and Vee Cannell. Picture: Stuart Anderson

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