Service in Sandwell to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day

On Thursday 6 June, Sandwell will commemorate the heroes of D-Day on the 80th anniversary of the historic Normandy landings.


The service, which is open to everyone wishing to pay their respects, will be held outside Sandwell Council House, Freeth Street, Oldbury from 11am – 11.30am. It will include a flag-raising and a minute’s silence, with light refreshments served afterwards. Attendees are requested to be outside the Council House by 10.45am.

The Royal British Legion has worked closely with Sandwell Council to organise this event. Anyone is welcome to continue on to Oldbury British Legion in Windsor Road after the service and refreshments have finished at the Council House.

A number of servicemen from Sandwell saw action on D-Day, which marked the beginning of the liberation of Western Europe from Nazi control. Among them was Smethwick-born Lieutenant Den Brotheridge who is widely recognised to be the first Allied serviceman to have been killed by enemy action on D-Day.

As part of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, Lieutenant Brotheridge led his platoon in ‘Operation Deadstick’.

By landing gliders close to bridges in Normandy, this operation aimed to capture them from the Germans, preventing the enemy tanks from reaching the Normandy beaches and, therefore, the Allied soldiers landing there.

The operation was a success, and the bridges were taken. However, in leading his platoon across Pegasus Bridge, Lieutenant Brotheridge was hit by enemy fire and died soon afterwards.

Lieutenant Brotheridge’s daughter, Margaret, was born three weeks after his death. She said: “I hope the D-Day anniversary commemorations and the stories of servicemen like my father will make a difference. It is important that we think about what happened on D-Day and to feel proud of what my father’s generation did and their commitment to freedom for Europe.

“So many people lost their lives and many of the soldiers who came back wouldn’t talk about what happened there, so we need to make sure that their stories are told now and for future generations.”

There is a commemorative plaque to Lieutenant Brotheridge at Smethwick Council House.

Councillor Syeda Khatun MBE, Mayor of Sandwell, said: “Stories like Lieutenant Brotheridge’s really show how much our armed forces gave up in the fight to liberate Europe from Nazi tyranny. It is important on the 80th anniversary of D-Day to remember these sacrifices.

“I am proud to join the Royal British Legion and Sandwell families in marking this historic occasion.”

An article about Lieutenant Brotheridge from The Smethwick Telephone newspaper from 1944 is stored at Sandwell Archives, based at Smethwick Library, and is available to view upon request during Sandwell Archives opening hours.


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