Tommy and servicemen silhouettes in Cliffsend to mark 80th anniversary of D-Day

Soldier, sailor and airman saluting the Tommy in Bakers Field Photo Michael Grantham

Seven Tommy silhouettes, plus three additional pieces showing a soldier, sailor and airman saluting, have been installed around Cliffsend to mark the 80th anniversary of World War Two’s D Day operation on June 6, 1944.

The Normandy landings, referred to as Operation Overlord and Neptune (for the planned amphibious attack), but collectively known as D-Day was meticulously planned and involved allies from all over the world, including sailors, soldiers, and airmen from the USA, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland and others.

The invasion is now described as a turning point in the war and often credited for shortening the war by several years.

The Allies used over 5,000 ships and landing craft to land more than 150,000 troops on five beaches in Normandy.

Men of the British 22nd Independent Parachute Company, 6th Airborne Division being briefed for the invasion, 4–5 June 1944 Image Malindine, E G (Capt), War Office official photographer

The landings began the liberation of German-occupied France from Nazi control and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

To mark the anniversary there will be beacon lightings at 9.15pm on June 6 across the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, UK Overseas Territories and on the five beaches in Normandy, France, in celebration of the ‘light of peace that emerged from the darkness of war’

National Fish and Chip Day, is also moving from its traditional Friday slot to Thursday 6th June, in support of the D-Day 80th celebrations.

Photo Michael Grantham

In Cliffsend the anniversary has been honoured with the Tommies installations that were created by resident and parish councillor Beryl Harrison.

The 84-year-old used her own pattern for the Tommies which were cut from plywood ready for her to paint. Just last week she created a new pattern which she then adapted so she could make the soldier, sailor and airman saluting a Tommy. These can be seen in Bakers Field.

Photo Michael Grantham

The other Tommies are on Sandwich Road, Canterbury Road west, the gates by the village hall and by the cross at Cottington Road.

Beryl, who has previously installed displays to mark VE and VJ Days as well as Remembrance each year, said: “ I started them a few weeks ago and had to get the ply – some of which was paid for by the parish council-. I drew them out and my carpenter friend cut them for me and then I painted them.

Photo Michael Grantham

“Last week I decided to do three more and made the pattern for them by putting a pair of trousers on the table and then a jumper, folding the arms in, then doing the outlines, adapting each to make the soldier, sailor and airman.”

Photo Michael Grantham

The village will also mark the occasion with a fish and chip supper which some 60people, including a 101 year old and a lady who will be marking her 80th birthday.

The event will be in the village hall, with the lunch served in wrapping paper with tea or coffee. This event is free for those residents who are 80 or over by 6th June 2024.

Photo Michael Grantham

Any spare places are being offered to residents of the village and for those younger than 80 there will be a nominal charge.

Fish and chips will be the only dish on the menu, as the significance of this is that fish and chips was the one food that was not rationed throughout the war years.

D Day 80th anniversary commemorations in Thanet

4 Comments

  1. Congratulations to Cliffsend Cllr. Beryl Harrison for organising the wonderful silhouettes and the fish and chips meal with very little help if any from her fellow Councillors.

  2. Just recently I had a flashback to 1988, when my father died. His regiment landed in Normandy on D – Day plus 2 ie: the 8th June, by which time the Germans had woken up! The Adjutant noted in the Regimental war diary “Landing went better than expected, only lost 12 men”. When I was sorting out my fathers papers after his death, I found a folded up copy of a map of Normandy, and when I opened it up sand fell out! Suddenly I had a feeling of great fear, and anxiety, so I threw the map away!

    My father survived the war, and ended up as a guard in Belson to keep the liberated inmates from spreading diseases amongst the German civilians. He never spoke about his war, and I never talked to him about my army experiences some 28 years before he died! MY father was awarded a Mention In Despatches medal for “Courageous and Gallant service” but I never knew what for.

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