This month marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, with numerous events held across the county to remember the American soldiers who stayed in Dorset in the months leading up to June 6 when they left for Normandy.

The 16th Infantry Regiment were stationed in Beaminster, with its headquarters at Parnham House. The headquarter staff lived here and in billets nearby, with the Headquarters Company, made up of a range of specialists, staying in huts in the grounds of the house and fields.

Parnham House was owned by Eric Bullivant at the time, with him and his wife living in one part of the house and their daughter in a house in the grounds. The senior officers slept upstairs.

The rooms downstairs were used for administration and dining and a large attic bedroom was used for the detailed planning of the Omaha Beach landings. The staircase leading to this room was always guarded.

More than 3,000 men of the 16th Infantry were based in west Dorset and the people of Beaminster enjoyed the generosity of the American soldiers. Local people were invited to dine with them at the Public Hall in Fleet Street for Thanksgiving on November 25, 1943 and for Christmas the same year.

Fish and chips were also enjoyed by the soldiers when they stayed in the town, with a queue in North Street for the meal often mostly the GIs.

The Public Hall was used as a mess hall and also for dances, with cooking done in a hut behind the hall, where the Yarn Barton car park is now.

The Army’s medical detachment in Beaminster also helped residents where there was a need, with some even receiving dental treatment from the US Army.

The Anti-Tank Company of the 16th Infantry Division was also based in Beaminster, billeted at the Red Lion Hotel.

As this important anniversary has come around, the residents of Beaminster are reflecting on the momentous occasion of welcoming the US Army back to the town on November 10, 2002, 59 years after they first came.

Organised by the Beaminster branch of the Royal British Legion in conjunction with members of the 16th Infantry Regiment Association, around 45 American soldiers came to dedicate a bronze plaque on the Public Hall, which is still there today.

Soldiers from the US Army’s 16th Infantry Regiment who stayed in Beaminster nearly 60 years before were reunited for the first time in an emotional and moving ceremony, as they visited the town to pay their respects to those who died and swap memories of their time here.

It was an incredibly special occasions as five original soldiers who were based in the town in the months before D-Day - Ray Lambert, Don Wilson, Joe Argenzio, Bill Ryan and Henry Orton - made it over for the occasion.

On November 10, a parade was held from the Playing Fields to the Public Hall to unveil the plaque with s special ceremony before a remembrance parade from the fire station to a service in St Mary’s Church.

A two-minute silence was held in the Square on November 11, with American vehicles on display and memorabilia in the Skyrm Room. The party enjoyed a commemoration dinner in the evening.

A day after, the visitors went to Weymouth and Portland, the two D-Day embankment harbours, where Col Gerry Griffin, of the 16th Infantry Division, laid a poppy cross.

It was truly an event to remember for the residents of Beaminster, and one that will not be forgotten.

Thank you to Tony Greenham for the photos and information from 'Seven Months to D-Day' by Robin Pearce.