Jarrow church flying the flag in honour of Normandy veterans

CONSTANT REMINDER ... Mayor Fay Cunningham, veteran Bob Douglas and Rev Gillian Maude, ready to fly the standard for the 103 Normandy veterans of Jarrow at St Paul's Church on Saturday.
CONSTANT REMINDER ... Mayor Fay Cunningham, veteran Bob Douglas and Rev Gillian Maude, ready to fly the standard for the 103 Normandy veterans of Jarrow at St Paul's Church on Saturday.

A HISTORIC South Tyneside church is flying the flag in honour of veterans of the Second World War.

On June 6, 1944, around 150,000 Allied troops from Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand landed on the beaches in Normandy, France, heralding the beginning of the end of the 1939-45 conflict.

I do hope people will come along to pay their respects to those who paid the ultimate price and honour those on active service in areas of conflict around the world.

Coun Fay Cunningham, Mayor of South Tyneside

Normandy Veterans’ Association (NVA) groups were established nationwide to commemorate the landings and to organise trips to France.

Veterans would visit former battlefields and war cemeteries and attend church services, to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The national association disbanded last year due to dwindling numbers.

But the Jarrow 103 branch continues to meet and organise social activities for veterans of the Normandy campaign, their friends and families.

Now a permanent new home for that branch’s impressive Standard has been found.

The Standard will be laid up in St Paul’s Church in Jarrow at a special service this Saturday, from 4pm.

The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, who will attend it, said: “This occasion will provide an opportunity to commemorate and remember the heroic sacrifices made by the Normandy veterans for the liberation of so many.

“I do hope people will come along to pay their respects to those who paid the ultimate price and honour those on active service in areas of conflict around the world.”

The mayor, who is also honorary secretary of the Jarrow Normandy Veterans’ Association, added: “The beautiful, holy building of St Paul’s is a fitting home for the Standard and will be treasured by the people of Jarrow.

“It will serve as a constant reminder of the sacrifice made by these men so that people today can live in peace and freedom.”

The Normandy Veterans’ Association had 14,000 members at its peak.

At the 65th anniversary in 2009 that number was down to 3,000.

And when it was disbanded in November last year, fewer than 600 members remained.

The veterans, most of them now in their 90s, decided that after last year’s 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings it was the right time to disband.

The NVA’s flags and banners were formally deposited at St Margaret’s Church at Westminster in London.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul