THE WARTIME heroes of Lyme Regis will be officially honoured by the United States Army in the town’s D-Day commemorations this weekend.
Lyme’s hospitality to the Americans based in and around the town during the preparations for D-Day will be heralded for giving strength to the soldiers who landed on Omaha Beach in the assault on Normandy of June 6, 1944.
The US Army tribute comes as Lyme prepares to mark the 70th D-Day anniversary from tomorrow until Sunday.
A plaque commissioned by the 16th Infantry Regiment Association to mark its special bond with the town will be unveiled by the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Sally Holman, at a ceremony at Bell Cliff at 1.15pm on Sunday.
The plaque has been presented with a citation for Lyme Regis from Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich, Honorary Colonel of the 16th Infantry Regiment Association. It states that soldiers of the 1st Battalion on April 25th 1944 departed Lyme Regis with ‘optimistic, courageous hearts’ due to the town’s generosity.
A three-day programme of events which will start with an outdoor service on the cliffs at dawn tomorrow and will finish with a full civic march and service on the seafront on Sunday.
The march with the full town band will be led by the mayor and Lyme and Uplyme primary schoolchildren will also record a commemorative roll of honour.
Thousands of troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment were stationed in West Dorset from November 1943 to June 1944. ‘C’ Company of the 1st Battalion of the 16th Infantry were based in Lyme under the command of Captain Victor Briggs, together with ‘A’ Company of the 1st Medical Battalion under Captain Leo Apanasewicz.
Both captains died in the war but their sons will join the commemorations.
Captain Apanasewicz’s stepson Paul was raised in Lyme and became an accountant.
He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Lyme is recognising what the Americans did for the town, especially after all this time.
“My mother would be extremely pleased; I’m looking forward to being at the ceremonies on Sunday.’ Captain Briggs’ son, Victor Junior, added: “Many heroic men gave their lives on D-Day and during the campaign that followed.
“It’s very gratifying to me that the people of Lyme Regis are honouring their sacrifice and their memory.”
l For more information about the D-Day events call 01297 442138.