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Sheffield D-Day veterans’ tribute to comrades

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The roar of a Dakota, a Lancaster bomber and a Spitfire split the skies above Normandy yesterday as Sheffield veterans attended a sun-soaked ceremony in tribute to their D-Day comrades.

Today 11 veterans from South Yorkshire will be among 650 from around Great Britain attending international commemorations in front of heads of state, including the Queen and US President Barack Obama, from 17 countries.

But yesterday they were among hundreds who packed into a tiny field in the town of Colleville-Montgomery - renamed in honour of their charismatic leader Field Marshal Montgomery who led the troops in Normandy - for an open air church service.

In the sky above them, breathtaking World War Two aircraft followed the blazing vapour trail of the Red Arrows in a spectacular fly-past.

Over Sword beach, parachutists dropped from the clouds under poppy-red canopies against a bright blue sky.

Bert Holmshaw, formerly of Jordanthorpe, who landed on Sword beach exactly 70 years ago today with the 3rd British Infantry Division, had travelled to Normandy with his daughter Christine.

He met ‘Monty’ face-to-face early in 1944 when he visited the troops training in Fort George, Scotland.

“I was in REME attached to the Royal Artillery, and he said, ‘Aaah, REME’. That’s all! But the fact he acknowledged we were there was enough. He was a busy man, and held in very high regard by everyone. He was sharp tongued. When he said anything it came out like rifle bullets.”

 

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