During the Second World War, North Devon harboured one of the most important training camps for American soldiers, in preparation for the D-Day landings at Braunton’s Assault Training Centre.
Later this week, we’ll see the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings which revolutionised the course of the war. A number of events and exhibitions will be taking place across North Devon to commemorate the occasion, and the rich history in the local area.
On Thursday 6th June, several memorial events will take place across North Devon to commemorate and show respect for the soldiers who fought in the battle.
A wreath laying service will take place at Braunton Burrows at 11:50am. Joining the Royal British Legion and relatives, attendees should meet at the Crow Point Car Park before gathering at the WWII concrete landing crafts on the burrows - all are welcome.
Similarly, to mark the contribution of the thousands of American GIs who trained at Braunton’s Assault Training Centre, there will be a memorial service at St Brannock’s Church, also in Braunton. To find out more about the assault training centre and the training of these American troops, click here.
Later that day, at Northam Burrows, there will be a dedicated history walk from 2 until 4pm. Dave Edgcombe from North Devon Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty will lead the walk and guide an informative tour on the WWII significance of the burrows.
Credit: Lorna Weston
Over the course of the week, we’d also recommend visiting one of the ongoing history exhibitions in North Devon focusing on the D-Day anniversary as well as the second world war.
D-Day Remembered at Ilfracombe Museum, will outline the story of Ilfracombe’s part in preparation for the D-Day landings. This will include information about the American troops stationed in the area, the history of HMS Ilfracombe, and the stories of local men who were involved in the landings.
The North Devon Maritime Museum in Appledore are hosting ‘Appledore at War’, an exhibition to commemorate the D-Day landings as well as commemorating Appledore’s part in the invasion. This includes a 1940s schoolroom and kitchen, audio and visual memories from an eyewitness, and over the course of the 1st - 9th of June, a tented exhibition of military artefacts.
There are a multitude of other exhibitions in local museums and visitor centres across North Devon, from Combe Martin to Westward Ho! which are running over the summer and in some cases all the way through to Autumn. Each with their own take on the D-Day landings, as well as their own history, unique to each North Devon town or village, they are all well worth their own trip. You can find a complete list here.
Other events, including Saunton’s famous living history weekend, will also be taking place over the summer. If you’re planning on attending any of these, let us know - we’d love to hear how you find them! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to be kept up to date on other exciting happenings throughout North Devon.