On Friday 24 March 2017, the Taxi Charity accompanied a delegation from Merville on a visit to Hungerford to pay their respects at the Merville Battery Memorial on Inkpen Common.
The French delegation comprised the Mayor of Merville-Franceville, Olivier Paz; the Director of the Merville Battery Museum, Pascaline Dagorn; and a number of French war veterans.
The British delegation included the Mayor of Hungerford, Cllr Martin Crane, and his wife Virginia; the Constable of Hungerford, Ellie Dickins; and war veterans Fred Glover (9 Para), Roy Cadman (No 3 Commando) and John Honey.
Taxi Charity committee members involved were Dick Goodwin, Graham Pike, Paul Davis, Dennis Hayes, Gary Mankelow and Ian Parsons.
The party assembled at the Royal British Legion Club where they took a ‘fish and chips’ lunch and then moved onto the memorial.
In WWII, 9 Para were tasked with destroying the Merville Battery - a major Nazi installation guarding the beach - the day before the D-Day landings were to take place. Its destruction was key to the success of the invasion of Normandy.
9 Para trained for the mission in a wooded location south of Hungerford below Walbury Hill, and this is where the commemorative stone is now set.
In June, the Taxi Charity is planning to take a party of 120 British war veterans to Normandy for its Back To The Beaches trip. Events surrounding the invasion and the involvement of 9 Para are commemorated in the Merville Battery Museum in France. A visit to Merville will be on the itinerary.
Photos courtesy of Tony Bartlett