D Day Celebrations at Brixham, Devon

The English Riviera played an important role in World War 2 activity and the Normandy D-Day landings, one of the largest sea invasions in history.

US military forces carried out their training exercises including Exercise Tiger in April 1944 on specially constructed slipways at Brixham harbour. 2,500 men of the 4th Infantry Division and 32 Amphibious tanks were deployed from there as part of Operation Overlord.

Many hotels including The Grand and The Palace in Torquay, as well as public buildings such as Oldway Mansion in Paignton were requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and used as training wings for 55,000 British cadets and converted to hospitals. Between South and Haldon Piers (grade 2 listed) D-Day slipways were built with reinforced concrete as embarkations ramps to load American troops who were to assault Utah Beach. Originally provided with dolphins and other ancillary features necessary for Operation Overlord the ramps were in continuous use by civilian sailors of small boats from 1945 until their closure in 2001.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings on Thursday 6th June 2019, the English Riviera will host a series of commemorative events.

Torquay Parade and Commemorative Service - 6th June

A parade and commemorative service will take place at 11am in the presence of Brigadier GW Fraser MBE ADC RM and representatives of the Embassy of the United States of America – London with an address by LT Col TK Courtenay OBE DL RM. The parade will start at Beacon Quay, the site of the embarkation ramps, and process to the Cenotaph at Princess Gardens, next to Princess Theatre.  Music will be provided by Musical Director, Mike Griffiths and Riviera Concert Brass. All are welcome.

Brixham Parade and Commemorative Service – 6th June

The parade will be led by the Royal British Legion (Brixham branch), Scottish pipers and drummers with South West military and civilian organisations. Starting at the ‘Man & Boy’ statue on the southern quayside at 11am the parade will process to Breakwater Beach for an inter-denominational service of commemoration. All are welcome.

Brixham Travels ‘Back to the ‘40’s’ - 1st to 9th June

The charming fishing town of Brixham will host ‘Back to the 40’s’, a week-long festival with 1940’s themed events including an afternoon tea dance, swinging live music and dance displays by the Lindy Hoppers, Torbay Ukulele Band and the Lympstone Military Wives Choir. Join the 17-piece ensemble, A.J’s Big Band on 6th June as they play classic war time tunes by the likes of Glenn Miller and Count Basie for an entertaining anniversary tribute evening at Brixham Theatre.

Guided walks will take you around the town whilst vintage vehicle displays, re-enactments and film screenings will take you back to the second world war era. Travel back in time with fascinating local stories, of interest to all ages, at Brixham Heritage Museum. Local military historians and enthusiasts will give free talks on WW2 medals, tales of allied forces and refugees, and the American 4th Infantry Division’s departure from Brixham harbour.

Open Day at Brixham Battery Heritage Centre - 9th June, 11 am to 4 pm

Take a look around Brixham Battery Heritage Centre’s museum and scheduled monument to learn more about the site, one of the country’s last remaining Coastal Defence Battery.  During the second world war up to 250 soldiers were stationed there, and it has been used as a military training facility. The Brixham Battery Heritage Centre is run entirely by volunteers, and entry to the site is free with donations welcome. Within the grounds there are delightful gardens, a park and a natural landscape of trees, shrubs and grass with fantastic views across The English Riviera.

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