Just ahead of the second national lockdown, the York Normandy Veterans were welcomed by York stained glass company Barley Studio to see a window about to be installed at St Lawrence’s Church, York.
Three years ago Ken Cooke (95, 7th Battalion The Green Howards), Sid Metcalfe (97, 3rd Reconnaissance Corps) and Douglas Petty (97, 429 Squadron, RAF Leeming), along with Ken Smith (died April 2020 aged 95, 5th Battalion Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry) and Bert Barritt (died November 2019 aged 94, 2nd Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment), had a dream of a stained glass window recognising the efforts of the Combined Armed Forces in the D-Day Landings during World War II.
The three surviving Veterans, along with project leader Nick Beilby, have now seen their vision made into reality.
The new stained glass window by artist-designer Helen Whittaker was due to be be installed at St Lawrence’s Church, York, on Wednesday 4 November.
A spokesman for St Lawrence Parish Church said: “We are very proud of our relationship with the York Normandy Veterans, and delighted that we will have a lasting memorial to the effort and sacrifice of those from York who strove to liberate Europe and secure our freedom and peace.”
Helen’s design has been inspired by the memories and recollections of surviving veterans from the York area (so evocatively described in the verbatim play Bomb Happy by Helena Fox), and pays tribute to their inspiring spirit of comradeship, irrespective of rank or position.
The artwork is divided horizontally into three tiers: land, sea and sky, representing respectively the British Army, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force, working together in the largest Combined Armed Forces operation to date.
At the heart of the design, two men can be seen waiting inside a landing craft at the dramatic moment when the armoured doors open and the ramp is lowered.
Their backpacks proudly bear the badge of the City of York Normandy Veterans (YNV).