24th March 2017: For those not present, my understanding of proceedings is that in June 2017 the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans (TCMV) is planning to take a party of 120 war veterans for a commemorative visit to Merville. It was key to the success of the invasion of Normandy in WW2 to destroy a major Nazi installation (the Merville Batterie) which was guarding the beach and 9 Para were tasked with achieving this the day before the D-Day landings were to take place. They trained for the mission in a wooded location south of Hungerford below Walbury Hill, and there is a commemorative stone set by the road at the top of the hill.
Events surrounding the invasion and the involvement of 9 Para in the enterprise are commemorated in a Museum at Merville which attracts many visitors each year. As a prelude to the June 2017 ‘invasion’ by 120 war vets, a delegation from Merville comprising the Mayor, the Director of the Museum and French veterans is being hosted for a visit to England by the TCVM during which time they visited Hungerford today with a view to paying their respects at the memorial on Walbury Hill.
I was present at the Royal British Legion Club this morning where the party assembled and took a ‘fish and chips’ lunch (the first batch of pictures) and later in the afternoon on the hillside at Walbury. Many of the people featured will be known to you. There was a 9 Para veteran (look for the red beret with the 9 Para badge) who took part in the mission and other vets. Ian and Dick from the TCVM flank the group in my 1028 image and can provide more info about the Charity’s activities. John and Derek from the RBL can help with the military aspects.