ON THURSDAY we will be marking the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day

Many events will be taking place across the UK to remember the feats and sacrifices of these soldiers, including a special ceremony in Broadmayne and a day of activities in Dorchester. With this in mind, we look at the experience of GIs staying at Broadmayne ahead of embarkation on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

Members of the US 1st Army stayed at Camp D5 at Broadmayne.

The three camps at Broadmayne were at Knighton Lane, just to the west of Broadmayne and to the east at Fryer Lane.

The camps, known as Marshalling Area D5, could accommodate around 3,000 troops. Other camps nearby were D4 at Winterborne Came and D9 on the Ridgeway above Bincombe.

The main US Army unit using D5 was the 2nd Battalion of the 18th Infantry Regiment of the 1st US Infantry Division - known as 'the big red one'. This was the oldest division in the US Army.

They arrived in Broadmayne in December 1943, occasioning going away for training before forming up ready for D-Day from May 1944.

On June 2, 1944 they left Broadmayne to travel the short distance to Weymouth harbour to board ships, Landing Ship Tanks (LST) and Landing Craft Infantry (LCI).

The landing has been set for June 5 but the weather was so bad it had to be postponed. However, General Eisenhower decided to go ahead on June 6 so there was no time to go back to camp , resulting in troops spending an uncomfortable last couple of days in cramped conditions on troopships in Weymouth and Portland harbours.

Allen N. Towne, a combat medical aidman serving with the Big Red One, left Portland Harbour aboard the USS Dorothea Dix en route to Omaha on June 5, 1944.

A bad storm hit as they left the harbour with men becoming seasick. More ships joined as they sailed towards France and formed into a long convoy. Mine sweepers were clearing a path ahead of the fleet and as the convoy travelled across the channel to the French coast, there was no sign of the Germans in the air or the sea.

However, the monotony on the ship was broken up when it was discovered there was a celebrity on board - Ernest Hemingway in his capacity as a war correspondent.

Allen recalled: "It was good to have a diversion because, for a while, we could forget what would happen tomorrow."

*ALL are invited to the dedication of a D-Day memorial to commemorate GIs who were stationed at Broadmayne ahead of D-Day.

The ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 6 at 10.30am at the junction of Chalky Road and the Cowleaze Road playing field entrance in Broadmayne.

The ceremony will be taken by the Rev Anthony Bush, and the chairman of Broadmayne Parish Council Steve Diamond, and will be attended by a contingent from the USA. After the ceremony, one of the original vehicles carrying the troops from Broadmayne to the embarkation will be on public display close to the memorial, courtesy of Steve George of Castletown D-Day Centre.

This event is organised by Local History Broadmayne and the Castletown D-Day Centre, on Portland.

*A DAY of commemoration for the 75th anniversary of D-Day will be held in Dorchester on Saturday, June 8.

A service will be held in the Borough Gardens from 10.30am with music provided by the Durnovaria Silver Band. There will be a special embarkation convoy and re-enactors provided by the D-Day Museum in Castletown, leaving the Borough Gardens at 12pm.

The Dorset History Centre in Bridport Road, Dorchester will be open from 10am to 4pm. Visitors will be able to look at military archives and find their 'family soldier'. There will be D-Day talks at 11.45am and 2.30pm by Lt Col. James Porter. People will be able to explore oral histories and archive material.

The Keep Military Museum, also in Bridport Road, Dorchester, will be open from 10am to 5pm.

Entry is free and there will be a vehicle and weapons display, a chance to meet the Home Guard and children's trails and activities.

A new book has been released which is based upon the testimony of 83 survivors. Inside is the story of the Hampshires, the Dorsets and the Devons on June 6, 1944 and it will be available from the Keep. It costs £18.