Local towns will commemorate 80th anniversary of final battle

Local towns will commemorate 80th anniversary of final battle

5 June 2024

ALL roads lead to Ballynahinch tomorrow for the first in a series of D-Day celebrations to mark the 80th anniversary of a pivotal moment in world history.

There will also be a special service at 10am in Down Cathedral in Downpatrick.

People in Ballynahinch will join with others from across the UK to remember the tens of thousands of allied servicemen and women who served on D-Day.

The anniversary celebrations begin early in Ballynahinch at 8am when John Cartwright reads the D-Day Proclamation at the town’s War Memorial.

There will be similar events in UK towns and cities with people remembering those who took part in D-Day from America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Norway, Greece, France, Czechoslovakia, Rhodesia and Poland.

Following the proclamation at 8.03am, Ballynahinch Royal British Legion President, Dr Fred Byrne, will give an address.

The remembrance service at the town’s cenotaph will be led by the Rev Dario Lead, while at 8.20am, Pipe Major Alan Barr will play ‘Highland Laddie’, ‘Road to the Isles’ and ‘All the Blue Bonnets’ as played by Bill Millin, a Cameron Highlander who was Lovat’s personal piper.

Lovat commanded the 1st?Special Services Brigade at the D-Day landings and asked piper Millin to play the pipes on the beach and when they were joining the men who had captured the famous bridges at Benouville.? 

At 9am, Ballynahinch Royal British Legion Branch vice-chairman Mike Richer will raise the flag of peace, while one hour later the D-Day/World War Two display opens at the Market House, with church bells ringing out at 6.30pm.

Bells will be rung at St Patrick’s and Magheradroll churches.

The evening programme commences at 7.15pm?with the ‘Swing time Starlets’ and the dance troop ‘Ballroom Blitz’ who will entertain the audience in the Market Square with singing and dancing from the 40s. ? 

The 1937 Wolseley 18/80 Salon De Ville car that was driven by Catherine Zeta Jones in the film ‘Dad’s Army’ as well as a few other WW II cars will be on display at Market Square on the night, with the peace beacon lit at 9.15pm in the same venue, Mr John Cartwright reading the ‘International Tribute’. 

Molly Watson from Hollymount Pipe Band will play ‘Highland Laddie’, ‘Road to the Isles’ and ‘All the Blue Bonnets’?.

During the World War Two exhibition, Spa WI’s Fiona Patterson will be displaying items which she hopes will give visitors a grasp of the weekly rations available to families during the war and there will also be a display of 'kitchenalia' and the opportunity for visitors to sample cookies made from an original WW2 recipe!

Ballynahinch Branch Royal British Legion - will have a display on war evacuees which will hopefully give children in particular an idea of what life might have been like for city children being sent to the country during the war for their safety.

And Richard and James Edgars from Woodgrange will be displaying some of their WW2 collections, with Mr John Cartwright bringing along some bygones, including gas masks.

The Dickson family will be displaying the uniform and other items which belonged to Mr  David, the eldest sibling from High Street in Ballynahinch, who volunteered for the Royal Navy in September 1934 aged 17.

David spent most of the war years on Malla Convoys on HMS Croome from ports at Gibraltar and Alexandria. He was a Gunnery Instructor at HMS Devonport and was mentioned in dispatches for distinguished service on June 8 1944. 

While Mr Dickson never talked about the war to his family, he was very proud of two of his grandsons Keith Scott who also joined the Royal Navy and Edwyn Dickson who joined the Royal Marines.

Pupils from Ballynahinch Primary and Drumlins Integrated Primary schools have been busy working on WW2 projects, with the evening programme in the Market Square kicking off around 7.15pm and Ballynahinch RAF Air Cadets will be there with their flight simulator.

The Beacon of Peace, once again supplied by William Watson from Drumcaw Steel, will be lit at 9.15pm, with the evening ending with the sound of the WW2 air raid siren supplied by Mr Paul Tate from Ballynahinch.

Meanwhile this Sunday, the Ballynahinch commemorations continue with the Ballynahinch Vintage, Classic and Retro Vehicle Static Display which is being held at the town’s High School. It starts 10am and continues until 2pm.

There’s a £5 charitable donation entry per vehicle and each exhibitor will receive a specially designed D-Day commemoration pin.? 

James Black from Ballinderry is planning to bring his?1913 Alpine Trial Rolls Royce which took part in the 110th Anniversary last year.

In addition, James and his team of experts have been working on the restoration of the car for a number of years and will take pride of place at the display.