6:32pm Tuesday 3rd June 2014
By Julie Armstrong
Chippenham Army Cadets formed a guard of honour for D-Day veteran Clifford Jones at an event commemorating 70 years since the Normandy landings.
It was on June 6, 1944, after nearly five years of war, that Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy and began the attack on the German defences, which resulted in an Allied victory in the Second World War.
Special guest Mr Jones, a veteran who has spent the last 51 years in Chippenham, was at the Yelde Hall on Saturday to share his memories.
He was only 22 years old when, as a driver mechanic with the assault troops, he landed on Gold Beach between Arromanches and Courseulles.
The D-Day commemoration was held a week early because Mr Jones will be in France on Friday at a reception with the mayor in Ver-Sur-Mer.
Mr Jones was delighted to sit on a Second World War BSA motorbike and meet women in costume.
Melissa Barnett, curator of Chippenham Museum, said: “We had a tea lady, a wench and a land army girl.
"I’ve never seen a 92-year-old so happy as when Mr Jones got to give them a kiss.”
The Chippenham event was organised by Wiltshire Councillor Peter Hutton and the town’s museum, with Hilmarton historian Richard Broadhead.
About 150 people of all ages visited throughout the day and took part in the interactive displays.
Charles Fremantle, from Langley Burrell, brought along his late father’s medal, watch and compass. Mr Edmund Fremantle, a Royal Navy Commander, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery for his efforts on Juno Beach.
Mrs Barnett said: “It was about showing respect and remembering what people sacrificed.
“It is a nice thing to do because D-Day has been rather hidden with the World War One commemorations this year, but it was the biggest seaborne invasion in history and heralded the end of World War Two. Many brave soldiers died.
“It was important to do this now, because this may be the last major anniversary we are lucky enough to share with the people who experienced it.”
Coun Hutton said: “It was a really important community event and Mr Jones was delighted.”
The free exhibition will run in the Yelde Hall until Friday, June 13.
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