Why Hartlepool did not commemorate D-Day

Wreaths laid at Bayeux
Wreaths laid at Bayeux

AN EX-SERVICEMEN’S association has outlined the reasons why there was no event or service in Hartlepool to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

Hartlepool Combined Ex-Servicemen’s Association, which represents seven forces organisations, say they canvassed the opinions of its member organisations back in February but said they didn’t receive any responses.

There was also no budget for an event or service and the funding would have had to come out of the pot that funds the annual Armed Forces Day, in Hartlepool, due to be held on Saturday, June 28.

Officials also say that some of the town residents who had taken part in the Normandy landings wanted to go over there to take part in the commemorations.

It comes after there had been some criticism over the weekend from town residents on social media and also councillors from the Putting Hartlepool First group over why there hadn’t been anything in town to commemorate the 70th anniversary.

Tug Wilson, secretary of Hartlepool Combined Ex-Servicemen’s Association, told the Mail it is the responsibility of the association to organise events of this nature in town, and they then liaise with Hartlepool Borough Council about the plans around possible road closures and other logistical issues.

Mr Wilson said: “We sent out letters in February to the ex-service associations to see if there was any demand.

“Sadly there was no budget for an event or service to commemorate D-Day so it would have been a case of cutting back on the Armed Forces Day event, which is to be held later this month.

“There was no response so we took that to mean people wanted to run with the Armed Forces Day event as normal.”

A number of areas in the country did hold D-Day services or events of commemoration including Newham, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Hampshire and New Forest, while in Middlesbrough D-Day Victoria Cross hero Stan Hollis received a special hometown award and in Redcar D-Day veterans were joined by more than 100 people to commemorate the anniversary.

Last week hundreds of Second World War veterans took part in commemorations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, with many crossing the Channel for what may be the last time.

More than 650 servicemen, most aged in their 80s and 90s, travelled to northern France for two days of official ceremonies marking D-Day and the start of the liberation of Europe from Nazi rule.

Armed Forces Day is now in its seventh year and was created to honour all those who have served or are serving in the forces.

l Mail view and It’s your vote: Page 8.