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Durham Freemason Drops InTo D-Day 80th Anniversary

An account by W Bro Andrew Whelan, Rose of Raby Lodge, No 1650

During the recent 80th Anniversary of D-Day events in Normandy, I took part in a parachute drop from a Dakota (DC3 Placid Lassie herself a D-Day veteran) with over 100 fellow members of the Pathfinder Parachute Group to honour the memory of the British Airborne Forces who took part in Operation Overlord. The drop took place onto an original 6th Airborne Division D-Day Drop Zone (DZ Kilo) near the village of Sannerville, the weather was very favourable, with all five chalks completing their drops with only two minor casualties.

During my time in Normandy, I took full advantage to visit all of the major operational areas and to marvel at the accomplishments of our forebears.  Pegasus Bridge and the Merville Gun Battery were top of the list as an ex Paratrooper but having worn many different Cap Badges over my 40 years in the military visits to Juno Beach where the RAF Regiment came ashore and the Wings Museum to remember the cost to Aircrew were also essential. The occasion was very memorable, however, we must pause and reflect that during Operation Overlord the UK suffered 11,000 killed and 54,000 injured or missing but this is only part of the story as French Civilians paid a heavy toll in causalities with 12,500 either killed or missing. A heavy toll, but freedom is never free.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Col William S. Smith November 1787.

It was a privilege to honour members of the British Airborne Forces who had 80 years earlier descended from the sky by parachute and glider as part of the Allied Forces liberation of Europe from Nazi oppression.

“I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking”

General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Order of the day 6/44)

Stronger Together

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