THE Petworth Twinning Association joined in the rest of the world as it commemorated the 70th anniversary of D-Day last week (June 6).
On June 6, members – who have been visiting the area for some 24 years – went on a poignant trip to Ranville and Sword Beach.
County councillor Janet Duncton said: “I don’t think some of us realised then what the years would bring and how much we would learn from our friends about the second world war and especially D-Day.”
The group was also involved in the 50th and 60th anniversary of D-Day.
“Our escort, the president of Ranville Twinning, and our good friend Daniel Lalandaise got us parked in front of Ranville church and from there we were in time to see the parachute jump by several hundred from Hercules aircraft on to the marshy fields and sands around Ranville,” added Janet.
Ranville was the first village to be liberated on June 6.
There were 16 ‘twinners’ in the Petworth party, staying with what have now become long-term friends.
“The war cemetery in Ranville has some 3,000 war graves, with one soldier aged 15 and another buried with his dog.
“They were both killed at the same time.
“There are also 300 German soldiers buried there.
“Angela Merkel was in the Marie in Ranville before departing to Ouistreham where all the other dignitaries, monarchs and politicians including David Cameron, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and more were there for a celebration of the beginning of the end.
“Earlier in the day the Queen had been at the service in Bayeaux cathedral.
“On Saturday us Twinners had a day of delight. We sampled cheese and cider before seeing how Livarot cheese was made – very nice.
“After that Pont-l’Eveque and the Calvados distillery, its history and huge barrels in the cellars. The fumes were nearly strong enough to get light-headed on.
“The evening was very special with about 40 of us, English and French, enjoying a special meal with our friends.
“On a lighter note you can imagine my surprise to see an old colleague of mine in housing and planning from Hove – one Bernard (Bernie) Jordan – all over the papers and television. He had never said anything about his part in the Normandy landings, as so many didn’t, and I am glad I knew a man among many who was so brave.”
For the full story and all the pictures, see this week’s Observer (June 12).