TWO D-Day veterans – aged 91 and 100 – stood in silence at Christchurch’s war memorial to mark 70 years since D-Day.
They were joined by members of the Royal British Legion and children from the ages of five to 11 from the Priory School.
The event was organised by Gerry Nunn, chairman of the Legion’s Christchurch branch, concerned at the lack of civic events to commemorate the anniversary locally.
Fred Rushton, 100, was joined by several generations of his family, including a two-year-old great-grandson, also called Frederick.
“It doesn’t seem 70 years ago,” he admitted.
He said his memories of Sword Beach were hazy.
“It was a bit wet,” he joked.
Ted Kingswell, 91, of Walkford landed on Sword Beach on D-Day and drove a Bren gun carrier with the machine gunners of the Middlesex Regiment.
He jokes that he “never even got my feet wet” on D-Day, because his landing craft ended up on the beach.
“We were nervous but proud that we were taking part and proud that we had gone through it. I was lucky,” he said.
He said of the wreath-laying: “My thoughts went back to D-Day and how long ago it was.
“You do miss your mates. I think of the mates that never made it. I never thought I’d live to be this age.”
Royal British Legion branch president Eric Barnes told the gathering: “Seventy years ago today, the greatest invasion force ever assembled began the invasion of the Normandy beaches.
“We’re very lucky today to be joined by two of those veterans.
“We’re very grateful and proud to have them among us.”
The last post and reveille were played by Blake Harmer and the service was led by Christchurch vicar Father Christopher Mann.
He prayed: “Help us who today remember the cost of war to work for a better tomorrow.”