Borders musicians honoured to play at D-Day commemorations in Normandy

Jedburgh Royal British Legion with DDay veterans in the Normandy village of Thury Harcourt.
Jedburgh Royal British Legion with DDay veterans in the Normandy village of Thury Harcourt.

Jedburgh Pipe Band made its annual visit to Normandy last week to play for veterans of the 1944 D-Day landings.

The 17-stong band of pipers and drummers spent nine days playing at official ceremonies, involving 32 DDay veterans being escorted by Chester-based charity DDay Revisited.

Members of Jedburgh Royal British Legion play on a refurbished MASB 27 gun boat at Pegasus Bridge.

Members of Jedburgh Royal British Legion play on a refurbished MASB 27 gun boat at Pegasus Bridge.

Engagements included a 7.20am massed bands performance on Sword Beach on June 6, a reception with local school children and veterans in Thury Harcourt, a small town within the Falaise region which was heavily hit during August 1944.

The band also played at Colleville Montgomery next to the Bill Millin memorial statue, erected in 2013 to commemorate piper Millin’s bravery in playing up and down Sword Beach.

Later in the week joined veterans and schoolchildren for a poignant service in the village of Cambes-en-Plaine.

The band also provided entertainment for Thury Harcourt’s mayor Paul Chandelier, at a lunch, and in a special moment piper Darren Scurfield was invited to play at a wreath-laying ceremony by members of the Royal Engineers, of which he is a former member.

Pipe Major Tosh McDonald was also invited to play the Millin Montgomery Pipes, of which he is custodian, at the opening of the D Day Revisited garden, a memorial created for this year’s Chelsea Flower Show and relocated in time for D Day to its permanent home on an Arromanches clifftop.

“For me, that was very special,” Tosh said. “The band members were honoured to be involved with the commemorations and worked really hard all week.

“On June 6 itself, Arromanches was extremely busy and the band was used to escort veterans through the huge crowds.

“It was a special, high profile week and an honour for us to be involved.”