The men who won the D-day
D-DAY REVISITED, the Normandy veterans’ charity, is crowdfunding to mark the 75th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, D-day landings—the world’s largest seaborne invasion —with a commemorative garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (May 21–25). As both legacy and tribute, it is the dearest wish of those surviving that the garden be then permanently installed at the British Normandy Memorial at Ver-sur-mer, France.
Designed by RHS gold-medal-winner John Everiss of Lancashire, the entrance to the D-day 75 Garden will be flanked by two lifesize sculptures of Bill Pendell of Oxfordshire, who landed on Gold Beach as a despatch rider in the Royal Signals, 11th Armoured Division. In 1945, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in combat and, in 2016, he received the Légion d’honneur. Sadly, he died last month, aged 97. The first sculpture, by Thomas Dagnell, will feature Pendell in his beret and medals looking across at his 22-year-old self, depicted in metal by Mr Everiss, poised to rush out of the water up the beachhead (above). Fifteen further plinths will conjure up the experiences of different veterans, surrounded by 10,000 Armeria maritima or sea thrift (below), unassuming pink wildflowers that once featured on threepence coins —troops would have seen them both as they embarked at Portsmouth and inland of the Normandy beaches.
This year’s anniversary is ‘the final opportunity for the public to come together and commemorate D-day alongside men and women who experienced it first hand,’ explains Victoria Phipps of D-day Revisited. ‘We hope it will create plenty of opportunities for our Second World War generation to share their incredible stories.’ Visit www.d-dayrevisited. co.uk for further information; £250,000 is needed for the garden’s creation—visit www. gofundme.com/dday-75-garden to donate.