Barking and Dagenham remembers D-Day

PUBLISHED: 20:24 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 12:01 07 June 2019

Picture: Luke Acton.

Picture: Luke Acton.

Luke Acton

The borough has remembered the Normandy landings during the Second World War with a procession to Barking Town Hall.

In the largest land, air and sea operation seen before or since, Allied soldiers changed the course of the conflict on June 6, 1944.

Around 150 people joined the march from St Margaret's Church, led by flag bearers from the Royal Naval Association, air and police cadets.

Among the participants was the Queen's representative in the borough deputy lieutenant Ian Pittaway, councillors, and the council leader Darren Rodwell.

Mr Rodwell said on the steps of the town hall: "[The soldiers] shared one goal: to liberate Europe and the world.

"On the first day alone, 4,414 were killed.

"Seventy-five years have passed, but we owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone, both military and civilian who lived through the war, because we wouldn't be here otherwise.

"We wouldn't have the freedoms we have today, we wouldn't have the community we have today, if it wasn't for their sacrifice for the ones that passed and the one that survived to remember that past."

Joe King served on a destroyer in the Royal Navy in the fighting in the Mediterranean.

Picture: Luke Acton.Picture: Luke Acton.

As a seaman he served as a gunner. His ship, the destroyer HMS Janus, was sunk during the operation to liberate Italy. He was 18.

"I wasn't at Normandy, but what we were doing was helping to draw the German troops away from Europe. We were doing our bit in Italy."

When the HMS Janus was hit, 160 seamen lost their lives. By his count, he was one of only 52 to survive.

Asked what he hopes people take away from events like these, he said: "I hope they do remember it. I'm pleased to see that it's being taught and spoken about in schools.

Picture: Luke Acton.Picture: Luke Acton.

"Let's hope that they remember it and in the future there are no more wars."

Later, Bishop Trevor Mwamba said that the act of remembering was not only recognition of sacrifice, but a call to action.

"They were fighting for peace. We remember that it is imperative upon us to maintain that peace - that we should not let this happen again.

"In remembering, we are also rededicating ourselves to what they fought for."

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