D-Day veterans honoured with rail trip

Veterans visit Swanage Railway to commemorate the D-Day anniversary

Veterans visit Swanage Railway to commemorate the D-Day anniversary

First published in News

D-DAY veterans have been recognised with a special trip on a steam train.

The five men, who all took part in the invasion in 1944 as little more than teenagers, were welcomed to Swanage Railway and took a steam train to Corfe Castle station to view a new Purbeck at War exhibition.

Ray Wiseman, Brian Guy, Peter Lovett, Lee Wrake and Cliff Brown boarded a special carriage, normally used in the 'Wessex Belle' luxury dining train – for the steam train trip from Swanage to Corfe Castle.

Lee Wrake had landed on Omaha Beach with American forces as part of a Royal Air Force radar team, while Royal Navy sailor Ray Wiseman was a signalman launching landing craft filled with troops bound for the British Sword beach in Normandy.

Peter Lovett served with British Army and took part in the D-Day landings on Juno beach while Brian Guy served with the Royal Engineers clearing German invasion obstacles on Sword Beach.

Cliff Brown served on a Royal Navy minesweeper that took part in D-Day and with the coming of peace became a signalman at Worgret Junction – the start of the branch line from Wareham to Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Swanage Railway Company Chairman Peter Sills said: "It was very moving and humbling to meet Swanage's five D-Day veterans and a real pleasure to chat to them about their part in history.

"There can't be many small towns that are home to five D-Day veterans who all took part in the assault on the Normandy beaches on 6 June, 1944 – the largest and most daring maritime invasion in history.

"We wanted to mark the 70th anniversary of the historic invasion of Nazi-held mainland Europe and also say a big thank you to five very brave men who fought for their country at the time of its greatest need.

"The Purbeck area was a restricted area during the Second World War because of vital and top secret training by troops in the months leading up to D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

"An important exercise for D-Day took place on Studland beach with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower and King George VI travelling to Swanage by train.

"Soldiers preparing for the top secret and crucial invasion of Normandy were billeted in the Purbeck area with many troops coming to and from Swanage by train.

"The passing loop track at Corfe Castle was lengthened during 1943 so that the station could handle longer trains carrying soldiers and their equipment in the run-up to the D-Day invasion of France.”

The D-Day landings took place on June 6, 1944- 70 years ago next Friday. To view all of the Echo's anniversary coverage, click here 

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