Northern Ireland

D-Day remembered by veterans at Enniskillen school

General Dwight Eisenhower in Enniskillen in 1944
Image caption General Dwight Eisenhower in Enniskillen in 1944

World War Two veterans have attended a 75th anniversary D-Day commemoration in County Fermanagh.

Thousands of soldiers were based in the area in 1944, training for the invasion of Normandy.

The event took place at Enniskillen Model Primary School.

On 18 May 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower, commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, inspected troops at Celtic Park which is adjacent to the school.

To mark the anniversary, history was brought to life in the playground with a replica spitfire, wartime jeeps and members of the Wartime Living History Association.

In recent weeks, 96-year-old Bill Eames has returned to the school where he was a pupil to share his wartime experiences.

On the morning of D-Day, he towed gliders to northern France where troops on board helped secure Pegasus Bridge.

Image copyright ARTIST DAVID BRIGGS

A painting depicting his flight coming under attack by anti-aircraft fire as it approached the coast was presented to the school on his behalf.

Bill Eames missed the commemoration as he is recovering in hospital after falling and breaking his hip.

P7 pupil Caitlin, who interviewed Bill, said his story was inspiring.

"He was really inspirational in the war and he doesn't think of himself as a hero, he thinks of himself as a survivor."

Image caption Francis Hornby served as a driver in the Women's Auxiliary

The event brought back memories for other World War Two veterans including Francis Hornby.

She served as a driver in the Women's Auxillary Air Force and was based in Cornwall on 6 June 1944.

"On the day when we knew it had happened, there was great jubilation of course, not that there were many of us left in Coverack, everybody had gone," she recalled.

The anniversary was a day for veterans to remember their comrades, and for a new generation to learn of their sacrifice

Image caption Teddy Dixon presented pupils with a plaque made of sand from Utah Beach

Army veteran Bob Lingwood, who is 100, said: "There is still great, not only interest, but thanks and appreciation of what we went through."

Teddy Dixon, 99, who served in the US Army remembered the sacrifice of friends and family on D-Day.

"I had 2 pals killed, I thought of them and my wife's cousin, he was a pathfinder in the RAF and he was shot down too so it just brought those memories back."

Mr Dixon presented a 'D-Day 75' commemorative plaque to the school featuring poppies, barbed wire and sand from Utah Beach.