D-Day 75 Garden
D-Day Revisited Appeal
The Normandy veterans’ charity, D-Day Revisited, is seeking to raise £75,000 from the general public for a commemorative garden to celebrate and show appreciation to our Normandy veterans.
The ‘D-Day 75’ Garden will be exhibited on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea during the 2019 RHS Chelsea Flower Show (21st-25th May) on the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. 75 Normandy veterans will be invited to take part and share their incredible stories with the Chelsea Pensioners and members of the public.
With the surviving veterans now approaching 100 years of age this will be the final opportunity for the nation to express their gratitude. The charity is therefore appealing to the public to bring this garden to life and create a lasting legacy to the valiant actions these men and women undertook in 1944.
11th Armoured Division veteran Bill Pendell MM (pictured above) was chosen by D-Day Revisited to represent the Normandy veterans in this garden tribute and he was so looking forward to attending the Chelsea Show in May. Sadly this was not to be as Bill passed away 1st December, aged 97. His loss calls into focus the diminishing time we have left with our wartime generation and strengthens the charity's resolve to make this garden a reality in his memory.
75 Reasons to Show Support
The overall ‘D-Day 75’ Garden project is budgeted to cost £250,000:
£200,000 for the garden;
£50,000 to accommodate veterans, carers and essential medical support volunteers in central London.
The campaign has already secured £25,000 funding and the charity hopes the remaining £225,000 will be met by national support through a combination of £75,000 from public donations and 75 businesses contributing a minimum of £2000.
Following the RHS Chelsea Flower Show it is the dearest wish of the surviving veterans that the garden be relocated to a permanent site in Normandy. It is hoped that an additional £40,000 for this relocation might be met by LIBOR funding allocated to WWII veterans by HM Treasury to ensure this legacy.
Each donation, no matter how small, is hugely appreciated by the charity and the Normandy veterans. Just £7.50 will pay for three of the 7500 ‘sea thrift’ plants, which are so intrinsic to the garden design.
Reflecting Across 75 Years
Designed by multi RHS gold medal winning John Everiss, the ‘D-Day 75’ Garden allows visitors to pause, reflect and learn.
Two life-size sculptures will bookmark the entrance to the 32m x 12m garden and narrate the scene which unfolds behind them. To one side a veteran modelled on Bill Pendell MM sits on a stone plinth proudly wearing his medals and beret. Hand-carved from a single block of Millstone Grit, Bill looks across at a fragile metal figure of himself as a 22 year old; pausing before rushing up the beachhead.
Behind young Bill four waves break on the beach through a series of Cor-Ten steel angled poles, designed to represent “Rommel’s asparagus” placed by the occupying forces to ensnare landing craft. Four further fragile metallic figures struggle out of the water, desperately trying to avoid hidden obstacles or shell holes.
Beyond veteran Bill, a further 15 stone plinths stretch out towards the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Each day 15 veterans will be invited to engage with the garden and sit beside Bill for a moment; looking back at the scene of young soldiers. Here they’ll be surrounded by a carpet of 7500 Armeria maritima plants ('sea thrift’), which would have been seen by the troops as they embarked along the south coast of England and again as they pushed inland off the Normandy beaches.
In this moment the 75 years which separates one man from another is bridged and visitors are invited to consider how it must feel for veterans to reflect on the intense experiences they endured on D-Day and the days that followed.
The D-Day Landings
Codenamed ‘Operation Overlord’, the D-Day Landings on Tuesday 6th June 1944 remain the largest seaborne invasion in world history with over 6000 ships and assault craft. Nearly 160,000 men of the Allied Expeditionary Forces landed on D-Day, consisting primarily of British, American, Canadian and French troops, but also including soldiers, sailors and airmen from across the free world. A total of 875,000 disembarked onto the shores of Normandy by the end of June. The operation marked the beginning of the end of war in Europe.
Thank You for Your Support - A Note from D-Day Revisited:
Backed by the families of Field Marshall Montgomery and General Eisenhower, the ‘D-Day 75’ Garden will provide a fitting tribute to Bill Pendell and his pals. Bill was a generous and modest man, with a twinkle in his eye and an enormous zest for life which was truly infectious. We are proud to have known him and in turn, with the help of his daughter Fay Pendell and his best friend Joe Cattini, we hope to do him proud in May.