Rugby shines a light as part of commemorations to mark 80th anniversary of D-Day

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Rugby honours the heroes of D-Day next month with a special event to mark the 80th anniversary of the major military operation which changed the course of the Second World War.

Allied forces mounted the daring D-Day operation on 6 June 1944, storming the beaches of Normandy to start the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.

Codenamed Operation Overlord, it was the largest naval, air and land-based military operation ever launched and proved to be the turning point for the allies in the Second World War.

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But the success of the operation came at a considerable human cost, with 4,400 allied troops killed on D-Day alone, and a further 9,000 wounded or reported missing.

Marking the anniversary in Hillmorton.Marking the anniversary in Hillmorton.
Marking the anniversary in Hillmorton.

Estimates suggest German casualties on D-Day were between 4,000 and 9,000, while thousands of French civilians also died during bombing raids carried out by the allies.

To mark D-Day 80, commemorations and events have been organised on Thursday 6 June, culminating with an International Tribute at 9.15pm, when thousands of beacons look set to be lit across the UK and France to symbolise the light of hope D-Day brought during one of the world's darkest periods, and honouring the heroes who took part.

Rugby marks the anniversary with a special service at the Hillmorton War Memorial in High Street, starting at 8.50pm.

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Representatives from the Bilton, Hillmorton and Rugby No.1 branches of the Royal British Legion attend the Sunset Service, during which members of the public can place a tea-light in remembrance of the fallen.

It will be attended by Rugby Mayor Simon Ward and Deputy Mayor Barbara Brown.

The beacon at the war memorial will be lit at 9.15pm.

In addition to the beacon, the council also plans to light a Lamp Light of Peace at the Town Hall at 9.15pm, joining thousands of organisations, businesses and public buildings across the country marking the 80th anniversary by lighting a simple oil lamp.

Cllr Brown said: "D-Day marked the beginning of the end of the Second World War, one of the darkest chapters in our history.

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"The beacons for the International Tribute symbolise the light of peace which emerged from the darkness of war, a peace made possible by the bravery of thousands who gave their lives on Tuesday 6 June 1944 to protect the freedoms we still enjoy today.""That bravery should never be forgotten and I'm honoured to be lighting the borough's beacon and joining our community in commemorating the 80th anniversary of D-Day."

Hillmorton High Street will be closed from the junction with Fenwick Drive to the junction at Deerings Road from 8.45pm to 9.30pm while the Sunset Service takes place.

In readiness for D-Day 80, the council intends to install new, commemorative benches at the war memorials in Hillmorton and Whitehall Recreation Ground, and erect new, silhouette statues of a lone soldier at Whitehall Rec's war memorial and Chestnut Fields in the town centre.

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum marks D-Day 80 with a local history talk from Jonathan Davy on Saturday, June 8.

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Jonathan, a member of the Friends of the Fusilier Museum in Warwick, reveals the stories of four men from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment who died in Normandy, using drone footage and digital mapping to trace the journey taken by the regiment's battalions after storming the beaches on D-Day.

The talk takes place from 11am to noon. Free admission but places must be booked in advance via www.ragm.co.uk/adultlearning

Rugby Art Gallery and Museum also hosts an exhibition of art works created by pupils at Bilton School and Paddox Primary School for a project to commemorate D-Day 80.

Art works created for the project were inspired by the theme of 'peace', with the exhibition running at the venue's Community Gallery from Monday, until Sunday, June 16.

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