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Salute to the US's Second World War GIs
IT’S been 70 years since American GIs were over here and Bridport did its best at the weekend to acknowledge the debt owed to those brave soldiers.
The salute came in the form of a re-enactment weekend at Highlands End.
Cheryl Ludgate, Bridport spokesman for the World War II living historians group, said “The Americans arrived in November, 1943 and it seemed to me that nothing was being done to really to mark this very important event.
“For seven months one in four of the population was from the US forces and these people, and the Canadians, were training on the cliff prior to the Dieppe raid.”
The 16th infantry regiment 1st battalion were in Lyme Regis, the 2nd were at Walditch and the 3rd in the Bride Valley and Abbotsbury, she said.
Mrs Ludgate added: “Many of them ended up on Omaha beach on D-Day and from the D and G companies in Walditch half of them were killed, injured or missing on the first day.
“I just thought they did a lot for us and we can’t just forget them.”
The event included duo Blitz & Peaces from East Devon, living historians dressed up as the women’s Land Army, displays about the infantry regiments and war-time in Bridport with help from Bridport Museum, a Royal Engineers’ display, memorabilia from Elizabeth Gale whose family befriended American soldiers, military vehicles and group of US army airforce military police guarding the coastal pillbox with a road block, complete with weapons – licensed and deactivated – and with prior warning to police.
There was also a Saturday night dance.
Mrs Ludgate said: “It went well and was good fun. People are saying we ought to be doing it again next year and we may well do when we’ve had time to catch our breath and think.
“It also went down very well with the visitors and it was a curtain-raiser for our event on November 16 and 17 which is literally the 70th anniversary of the forces arrival. There will be an exhibition in the town hall, military vehicles in Bucky Doo Square and a dance.”
A raffle for Help for Heroes raised £229.