The British Normandy memorial officially opened on 6th June 2021 in Ver-sur-Mer. The ceremony had been due to take place the previous year but was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic. A subsequent ceremony planned for September 2020 was also cancelled. The names of over 22,000 soldiers are inscribed on it.
The site at Ver-sur-Mer overlooks Gold Beach where British troops landed on D-Day. This new memorial is designed to provide a permanent focal point for reflection and remembrance in honour of those who lost their lives.
Many feel that a permanent memorial was long over-due in Normandy. There are some sculptures to British troops to the west of Sword Beach at Ouistreham. And, in June 2019, a D-Day garden was installed on the cliffs at Arromanches to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. However, this new project is very much welcomed by veterans and their families.
Part of the memorial was revealed prior to the opening. The sculptor David Williams-Ellis was commissioned to create a piece for a ceremony held on 6th June 2019. The ceremony was part of the 75th anniversary programme. This high-profile event was attended by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron. Williams-Ellis created three soldiers in bronze to represent leadership and comradeship. The sculpture was shipped to France and formed the centrepiece of the commemoration event.
The British Normandy Memorial Site
After 6 June 2019, the site was closed so that work could begin to create the memorial. The sculpture of the three soldiers stands in front of a neoclassical memorial designed by architect Liam O’Connor. The memorial is a walled forecourt with colonnades and gardens on either side. Very cleverly, the columns form a rectangle and paths leading to the centre create the outline of a Union Jack flag. Those who lost their lives on 6th June 1944 are commemorated on the huge memorial wall. In total 160 columns are inscribed with the remaining names of the 22,442 service personnel under British command. Also honoured are tens of thousands of French citizens who died during the Battle of Normandy. As you sit or stand by the sculpture, you look down onto Gold Beach and Arromanches over to the left.
You can visit the Normandy Memorial Trust website page for more information about the project. The website includes a video of the construction of the site. You can find out how to donate to the project too. It is hoped that a Visitor and Education Centre will be opened at some point in the future.
The Roll of Honour
There are 22,442 names on the roll of honour and they can be consulted on the British Normandy Memorial website. If you would like to search for someone’s name, you can then find out which column of the memorial their name appears on.