SECOND World War Veterans from Wrexham are to return to Normandy to mark the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, thanks to a grant of £5,000 from the Awards for All Wales programme.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Awards for All Wales is one of the quickest ways to secure Lottery money.
The funding will allow members of the Wrexham Normandy Veterans Association, all of whom are aged over 80, to make a pilgrimage to the battlefields and cemeteries in Normandy next June.
The six-day trip will be a rare opportunity to revisit the area where around 150,000 Allied troops landed on June 6, 1944. Sixty-five years on, the Wrexham Normandy Veterans will be reunited with friends and relatives at D-Day remembrance events and will be able to pay their respects to those who lost their lives.
Although there are no official figures available, British casualties on D-Day have been estimated at approximately 2,700 with the total Allied casualties on D-Day believed to be around 10,000, including 2,500 deaths.
The landings were key to the success of the Allies’ invasion of northwest Europe, codenamed Operation Overlord, which led to the end of the Second World War.
Mr Edward Edwards, chairman of the Wrexham Normandy Veterans Association, was among one of the thousands of soldiers to land in Normandy back in June 1944.
He said: “Our unit had about 30 vehicles which all landed at different times. We had 24-hour packs with food and cigarettes and everything in them. It was all very well organised down to the last detail.
“It’s all a bit of a blur, though. I did feel rather scared, I must admit. When you arrive and see bodies floating in the water and all that it’s not very nice, but you’re trained mentally in the army for it not to affect you too much.”
Mr Edwards, originally from Rhostyllen, was called up to serve in the War aged 18.
But despite chairing the association, he will not be joining the other Wrexham Normandy Veterans on the visit.
“The main reason why I don’t want to go is because I’m a very sensitive person, and when I’d see those graves it would turn me over straight away and that would spoil my visit.”
Awards for All application packs can be obtained by calling 0845 600 2040 or for further information call 01686 611740 or visit the website www.awardsforall.org.uk.