FIFTEEN members of the Lyme Regis Barfleur Twinning Association crossed the channel to join hundreds of French families to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Normandy town’s liberation.
On Saturday, June 21, it was 70 years to the day that American troops drove into town to free the Barfleurais from Nazi occupation.
Just as on June 21, 1944, a convoy of American Jeeps drove through the streets of Barfleur to the harbour to a tumultuous welcome.
Only this time, the Jeeps were driven by French members of a local military vehicle preservation club in full American uniform.
The Lyme Regis group were invited to spend the weekend joining in the celebrations and staying with local families, who are members of the Barfleur Twinning Association.
Lyme Regis twinning chairman John Dover said hundreds of US troops were based in the Dorset town ahead of D-Day.
He said ‘it was an honour’ for Lyme Regis to share the liberation celebrations and it was ‘fitting and appropriate’ that both communities were now joined in a new partnership of friendship.
The group were met at the harbourside of the French fishing port by members of the Barfleur association.
The highlight of the weekend came on Saturday with a day of ceremony, celebration and solemnity.
Hundreds, including the Lyme Regis group, with Richard Doney as standard bearer, attended an outdoor thanksgiving service at St Nicolas Church alongside the harbour.
In his address the mayor, Michel Mauger, welcomed the Dorset contingent and praised the town’s American liberators along with British and Canadian troops.
Saturday’s events continued with a classic car parade – including Lyme Regis twinner Sheila Poupard and Mike Overfield-Collins in Sheila’s 1963 Sunbeam Alpine sports car.
There was music from a local band, visits to the historic lifeboat station, which was the first in France in 1865, an open air dance and a celebration meal to round off the day.
The next event planned by the Lyme Regis twinning group is a barbecue and afternoon to mark Bastille Day in the chairman’s garden in Somers Road.
The event, starting at noon on July 13, will raise funds for the association.
Anyone interested in attending should contact jonner_dover@ hotmail.com or telephone 07769 655362.