VIDEO: Lancaster bomber flies over Sheffield park as city marks 75 years since D-Day landings
A Lancaster Bomber was cheered as it flew three times over Sheffield’s Norfolk Heritage Park on Saturday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and remember all those who fought and died in the campaign to liberate Europe.
Old soldiers, sailors and airmen - a handful of whom fought in the Normandy invasions themselves - were joined by hundreds of their younger counterparts and thousands of spectators from all across the region to remember the fallen and marvel at the spectacle.
A brass-band accompanied parade of servicemen and cadets was followed by a moving service of remembrance before all eyes turned to the sky to see - and hear - the unmistakable roar of the Lancaster approaching.
The iconic aircraft overflew the park three times before heading off towards the Peak District, arriving - with immaculate timing - just as Sheffied’s newly-appointed Lord Mayor Tony Downing had finished his speech.
Graham Askham, secretary of the Normandy Veterans’ Association Sheffield and District, said the event – and the flyover – had been a ‘complete success’.
He put the impeccable timing of the flypast squarely down to the hard work of Lieutenant Colonel Julian Salusbury of the Yorkshire Officer Training Regiment.
“We have been working closely with Julian and had lots of discussions with him about what he thought we should do,” he said.
“And in the end we got the timing exactly right.”
Graham also paid tribute to Sheffield Council, the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Community Transport and First Bus, whose help he said had been invaluable in putting on the event.
Lt Col Salusbury said timings were ‘always a challenge’ and there was inevitably an element of luck, but that their good fortune had been mainly the product of meticulous planning.
And he said the support shown to the event by the Sheffield public was ‘tremendous’.
“It has been a great way to honour our forebears and those who are still living, and give thanks,” he said.
One of those he was giving thanks to was 95-year-old Normandy veteran Jack Quinn, originally from Sheffield but now of Mablethorpe.
He was the coxon of a boat which sailed to France on the eve of D-Day to clear the waters for the landing craft that would come the day after.
He was later awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery by France.
However, as well as paying their respects to the old soldiers and their fallen comrades, many had been drawn to event by the mouthwatering prospect of seeing the Lancaster up close.
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One of those was Glen Goldthorpe from Hoyland near Barnsley who said he had seen the Lancaster fly before and was looking forward to doing so again.
He said: “It makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck and you can hear it from miles away.
“I am pleased to see so many veterans here. I would not like to think what they went through.
“But today we are just hoping the weather is going to be on our side.”
In the end, he needn’t have worried, and the event went – in the words of Sheffield’s new Lord Mayor Tony Downing – ‘even better than we could have hoped’.
And he said the amazing turnout and ordinary Sheffield folk’s patriotism made him ‘proud to represent the city’.
“We always turn out for events like this as you saw with the Mi Amigo flypast at Endcliffe Park in February,” he said.
“The people of Sheffield are so patriotic. It brought a tear to my eye.”
Another dignitary at the service was Sheffield City Region Mayor Dan Jarvis.
“It is great to see so many people turn out and show their respects to people who have done so much for their country,” he said.
“I know from a previous life how difficult these things are to pull together and Sheffield has done a great job of hosting it.”
And Manor Castle councillor Terry Fox, in whose ward the ceremony took place, said he was there to pay his respects to the ‘heroes of D-Day’.
He said: “I read out a quote at Council from a veteran who said he 'looked facism in the eye’ on those beaches and didn’t like it.
“I can’t imagine what horrors these men went through.”
After the event was over and the veterans and spectators made their way home, Graham Askern spoke of how the day will be remembered in future years as it sadly but inevitably moves from living memory into history.
He said: “We want to continue to remember what these people did for us as long as we can.
“We will have a remembrance service at Weston Park every year on or around June 6, and hopefully young people will come along and carry it forward.”