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VIDEO: A Salute To The Fallen...

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3:13pm 6th June 2014
(Updated 3:13pm 6th June 2014)

It is seventy years since troops who set off from the creeks of Cornwall began the operation to take back Europe from the Nazis.

Troops gathered for D Day around Redruth, Helston, Perranarworthal and just off what is now the Chiverton Cross roundabout.

They set sail from places like Trebah and the creeks around Falmouth in a bid to stop the Germans discovering what was about to be unleashed.

Thousands embarked a flotilla of ships stationed in the Tamar, from Saltash Passage and Mount Edgcumbe.

More left from Fowey, which was also used to receive casualties from the fierce battles which took place on the beaches of Normandy.

Veteran John McHugh from Ashton near Helston said: "The Paras had no chance whatsoever. Ten thousand went in. I think it was about two thousand that came out at the end of the battle.

"They never got resupplied. The radios weren't working. All the supplies were dropped behind enemy lines.

"I think it's important all these things are remembered.

"For a long while schoolchildren weren't taught about these kind of things. Now they are. They go on trips to the old battlefields and they get first hand experience."

Jonathan Griffin is from Falmouth's Maritime Museum. He said: "There was a sense that one day they were here and two days later they were gone. Everything went quiet.

"That incredible build up of troops had just disappeared.

"The aftershocks are here in the culture of Cornwall and Falmouth. The aftershocks are here in the shape of our town - estates are now being developed where there was once an army camp."

Two Royal Navy squadrons based in Cornwall took part.

849 and 854 blocked off either end of the Channel to help stop the Germans operating subs and attack craft.

They are thought to be the last two in the fleet arm to carry the Normandy honour on their battle boards.

Pete Woolridge from Culdrose says today's crews are honoured to be linked, he said: "Both carry the Normandy battle on their battle boards, the guys are quite proud of this, they are probably the only two squadrons in the fleet arm that still carry the Normandy battle honour.

"During the day time their mission was to fly along the channel doing a search and destroy effort, where they were looking out for U-boats on the surface or fast attack crafts which could have attacked the allied forces going across the channel."

Prior to and after D Day several Royal Navy FAA Grumman Avenger squadrons operated with Coastal Command from Perranporth carrying out what was described as "Channel Stop" operations, designed to prevent enemy shipping from entering the English Channel. They also escorted assault convoys and participated in many night attacks on E boats and German Minesweepers that could interfere with the "Overlord" landings.  

Over a three month period from May 1944 long patrols in the channel lasted up to four or five hours at a time. Intensive anti-submarine searches were flown by day and anti-shipping patrols by night. They saw very little action because Channel Stop operations were so effective and successful, only one U-boat being attacked during June.

'We are all immensely proud of our heritage and the hard-won battle honours with which our Squadrons have been honoured", said Commander Andrew Rose, Sea King Force Commander at RNAS Culdrose.
"70 years on from D-Day we remember those who gave their all in defence of the nation and their memory lives on in today's FAA Squadrons as we commemorate the rich history of Royal Naval aviation."  

3:13pm 6th June 2014

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