The 70th Anniversary of D-Day - the Invasion of Occupied Europe in June 1944 - will be remembered and marked by a special programme over the D-Day weekend at Pembroke Dock’s new Heritage Centre at the Royal Dockyard Chapel.
Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust, which opened the Heritage Centre last month, is staging special displays, films and talks and also events for youngster visitors on Friday and Saturday, 6th and 7th June.
Talks focus upon the American GIs in Pembrokeshire in the run up to D-Day and RAF flying boat operations from Pembroke Dock to protect Allied forces.
Research by Trust Volunteer Gareth Mills, a former history teacher, has been turned into a book entitled ‘The Friendly Invasion’, incorporating memories of the Americans in wartime Pembrokeshire. This will be available at the Heritage Centre.
Sessions for young visitors include explaining Operation Overlord - the Invasion of Normandy - code breaking and Morse code.
A short service will take place on Saturday morning to remember those involved in the Invasion.
On view at Hobbs Point over the two days will be a restored wartime seaplane tender, No 441, which has been generously made available by owners Alistair and Marion Walker who berth it at Neyland Marina. It is complete in wartime markings as when it served at RAF Pembroke Dock.
Over the weekend the Coastal Command and Maritime Air Association - great supporters of the Sunderland Trust - will be staging its annual reunion at Pembroke Dock and other support is being provided by 14 Signal Regiment at Brawdy and the Penfro Model Group with various displays. Military and period vehicles are also promised for the Saturday.
How Pembrokeshire played its part in D-Day
D-Day - 70 years on, one letter and one word remain instantly identified with one immense moment in history - the Invasion of Occupied Europe.
On 6th June 1944 Allied forces landed on five beaches in Normandy, spearheading the assault which, after 12 months of bitter battles through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany itself, would lead finally to VE-Day - Victory in Europe.
Pembrokeshire, far removed from the Normandy beachheads, made decisive contributions to the success of ‘Operation Overlord’, codename for the Invasion. The Milford Haven Waterway was the most northerly port to provide direct support to the invasion, supplying munition and stores for the Allied forces.
Many military units trained for the invasion in the country - on the beaches, on Castlemartin Range, in the Preseli Hills. The ‘invasion’ of Pembrokeshire by overseas allies included American soldiers who would play a big part in battles to come. The Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight Eisenhower, paid a brief visit to American soldiers at Llanion Barracks, Pembroke Dock, just two months before D-Day.
And Pembroke Dock’s three Sunderland flying boat squadrons flew day and night to prevent German U-boats from reaching the invasion fleet.
This they did successfully…. but at a human cost.
Today, seven decades on, D-Day is remembered in many communities, none more so than Pembroke Dock which in wartime was base for all three Armed Services. A special programme of events takes place on Friday and Saturday, 6th and 7th, at the town’s new Heritage Centre in the Royal Dockyard Chapel. See details above.