Sidmouth Veterans join D-Day prayers

PUBLISHED: 18:55 12 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 18 June 2010

VETERANS joined a group of 45 to mark D-Day in Sidmouth on Saturday. Eileen Hodges and Dave O Connor, president and chairman of Sidmouth Royal British Legion, laid a wreath at the War Memorial in memory of those who died during the conflict.

VETERANS joined a group of 45 to mark D-Day in Sidmouth on Saturday.

Eileen Hodges and Dave O'Connor, president and chairman of Sidmouth Royal British Legion, laid a wreath at the War Memorial in memory of those who died during the conflict.

The Reverend Robin Laird conducted a short service for those present, leading them in prayers.

Also present was Dorothy Jackson. Both her husband Larry and Eileen's husband George - now both dead - landed on Sword Beach in the aftermath of D-Day, although they only got to know each other in peacetime.

George, a former chairman of the Sidmouth RBL branch, was a Warrant Officer First Class with the Royal Army Service Corps, responsible in the build-up to the landings for waterproofing vehicles.

Larry, who was vice-president of the RBL branch, was an ammunition examiner with a specialist unit of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, dismantling, defusing and destroying enemy mines and explosives.

Mr O'Connor said: "Sidmouth was like a garrison town. The RAF was in Sidmouth in July 1940 until the November because it had two radar stations.

"There was a lot of training here. The 571 Army Field Company, Royal Engineers, built defences on the seafront and laid mines and two guns on Peak Hill were manned by members of the Royal Artillery during 1939 to D-Day.

"There was a hell of a lot going on here in Sidmouth."

The RBL branch's next big event will be Armed Forces Day on June 27, when it will hold a drumhead service on The Ham at 3pm.

Sidmouth Town Band will lead the march through the town to Ham Green from the Conservative Club.

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