On the 77th anniversary of D Day, volunteer London Cab drivers took a large group of WWII veterans to the National Memorial Arboretum to participate in the official opening of the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans originally planned to take a group of WWII veterans to Normandy to participate in the opening of the new British Memorial, situated in Ver-sur-Mer overlooking Gold Beach, one of the five beaches used by the allies on D Day 1944. Unfortunately, pandemic restrictions meant that instead of the charity taking the veterans to the warm sun of Normandy to remember those who did not come home, the veterans sat in the rain at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire watching a live link.
Veterans Gilbert Clarke and Ken Hay who both spoke during the moving service, John Pinkerton, and Tom Schaffer, who laid a wreath of poppies and Doug Baldwin who received the Legion d’Honneur were amongst the group of WWII heroes brought to the event by Taxi Charity volunteer cabbies.
Dick Goodwin, Vice President, Taxi Charity for Military Veterans said, “It was very moving to see the faces of the veterans we support as the new British Normandy Memorial overlooking one of the D Day beaches in Ver-sur-Mer was officially opened. Under normal circumstances the Taxi Charity take veterans back to Normandy each year to mark D Day. Sadly, the pandemic has meant that we have not been able to travel to France for the 76th or 77th anniversary but we are determined that as soon as we are able, we will take a group of veterans across the channel to pay their respects at the new Memorial.”
WWII Veteran Roy Maxwell, No4 Commando, who landed at Sword Beach on D Day was taken to the event by Taxi Charity volunteer and ex Para Chris Willmott.
WWII veteran Roy Maxwell said “It would have been so wonderful to have been in Normandy with the Taxi Charity today for the opening of the new British Memorial but sadly that was not to be. It is so beautifully sited on a hillside above Gold Beach proudly facing towards England and I hope that we will be able to go and pay our respects soon.”
During the service WWII Veteran Doug Baldwin, 6th Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers was presented with the Legion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit, for the part he played in WWII. He went over to Normandy just after D Day, was captured at Estre and taken POW until the war ended.
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org
About the British Normandy Memorial
The British Normandy Memorial was officially opened on 6 June 2021 on the 77th anniversary of D Day. The Memorial bears the names of 22,442 individuals: British personnel and those of other nationalities who were serving in British units, who died while taking part in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy.
About the Taxi Charity
The Taxi Charity is run by volunteer London black taxi drivers and has been supporting thousands of veterans of all ages since 1948. The charity arranges free trips to the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, for acts of commemoration and days out to museums, concerts, or fundraising events in the UK, to catch up with friends and comrades.
Pandemic restrictions meant events had to be cancelled and the Charity has worked tirelessly to ensure veterans received regular contact by sending out a greeting card each month, gifts to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ day, stockings at Christmas and arranging Guards of Honour at veterans’ funerals. Volunteers have also helped with regular phone calls, food shopping, transport to hospital appointments, and more recently taking veterans for their Coronavirus injections.
The charity was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in June 2021.
To fund and facilitate their work, the charity is reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses, and trusts.