On the 77th anniversary of D Day veterans from across the world watched the long-awaited opening of the British Normandy Memorial
Invited British guests who had been unable to travel to Normandy, watched a live link of the official opening via a large screen at the National Arboretum Memorial in Staffordshire. Amongst invited guests was Gillian Holding, 84, who lost her Canadian cousin, Ivor Benjamin Baldwin, 27, on the 24 June, a few days after D Day.
Lieutenant Ivor Baldwin had been seconded from the Royal Canadian Infantry Corps to 1st Battalion, Dorsetshire Regiment, during WWII when the British troops were in desperate need of officers.
Gillian Holding , who lives in Sheffield, England, said, “My cousin Ivor, the son of my Father’s sister lived in Toronto. I only ever met Ivor once, when he came over from Canada and visited us 77 years ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. He came to visit us in Sheffield before joining the British troops and travelling to Normandy for D Day on 6 June 1944. Ivor was an accomplished pianist and I remember having to play a piece for him, when I got home from school, much to my embarrassment.
“When Ivor was killed the family were desperate to hear any news from people who had served with him but sadly no one ever responded to the piece my family put in the paper asking for information about him. Being invited to view the official opening of the British Normandy Memorial was a moving experience. Ivor’s name is carved on column 87 of the fabulous new memorial which is located on a hillside overlooking Gold Beach and as soon as pandemic restrictions allow, I hope to be able to go to Normandy to lay a wreath. And if I was lucky enough to hear from anyone who knew him in Canada or served with him in Normandy I would be over the moon. ”
Gillian Holding was amongst a group of 45 WWII veterans who was taken to the National Arboretum Memorial on the 6 June, by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans
To find out more about the support the Taxi Charity offers veterans visit www.taxicharity.org
About Lieutenant Ivor Benjamin Baldwin CDN/433, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps
Ivor lived in Toronto Canada with his father Benjamin Bramble Baldwin and mother Lillian Jessie Baldwin. Pictured below
An accomplished child pianist Ivor appeared in the local paper in 1927
Ivor was engaged to Alma Marchini
The inscription on the back of this picture says
Ivor and Alma Marchini – the future Mrs Baldwin
Ivor’s mother Jessie Baldwin died less than a year after her son of a broken heart and shortly afterwards Ivor’s fiancé Alma married his father – how prophetic that the inscription on the back of the picture came true – Alma did become Mrs Baldwin but not to the man she was first engaged to.
Gillian’s family was desperate for news about Ivor from those who knew him, and this was placed in the paper
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.