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D-Day: Vessels of Victory

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by Tony Collins (subscribe)
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Get Involved In Art Installation Dedicated To D-Day Ships
As the world commemorates 75 years since the Normandy landings that hastened the end of the Second World War, a new art project has been unveiled in Staffordshire which thousands of people are being urged to get involved in. D-Day: Vessels of Victory is a commemorative art project which has been launched at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, near Lichfield, in memory of all those who served in Operation Neptune, the waterborne invasion on 6 June 1944 commonly known as D-Day.

National Memorial Arboretum, D-Day: Vessels of Victory
The 'sea' of wooden ships takes shape as part of D-Day: Vessels of Victory

The Arboretum, part of The Royal British Legion, is recognised as the UK's year-round Centre for Remembrance, with more than 370 memorials dotted around the 150 acre site which is also home to almost 30,000 maturing trees. The Vessels of Victory art installation is beginning to take shape within the Merchant Navy Wood at the Arboretum. The aim of the project, which will gradually grow in size between now and September 15, is to recognise and remember the people who came together to make the Normandy beach landings in northern France, codenamed Operation Neptune, a success.

National Memorial Arboretum, D-Day: Vessels of Victory
Some of the brightly coloured wooden ships

The Normandy landings, which represented the largest seaborne invasion in history, involved an amazing 6,939 Allied vessels. From landing the British, American and Canadian troops who took part in the invasion, and evacuating the wounded, to delivering tens of thousands of tons of supplies, each vessel played its part. And, to commemorate this historic event, the Arboretum is calling on visitors to collectively decorate a total of 6,939 small wooden vessels, each representing an allied craft involved in the operation, as part of its D-Day: Vessels of Victory art project. People of all ages are encouraged to contribute to the installation, and decorate their wooden vessel in as colourful a manner as they wish. They can also add their name, or that of a loved one, or a vessel involved in the Normandy landings. However, younger artists are advised that the pens and inks used to decorate the ships are permanent.

National Memorial Arboretum, D-Day: Vessels of Victory
Information boards also form part of the art project

People wishing to add to D-Day: Vessels of Victory are asked to buy their wooden ships at 2 each from the welcome desk inside the Remembrance Centre at the Arboretum. They must then take their vessels to the activity station in front of the chapel alongside Heroes' Square in order to decorate them. Once completed, the decorated vessels must be returned to the welcome desk to collect a sticker. Their completed ship will then be added to the 'sea' of vessels in the wood.

National Memorial Arboretum, D-Day: Vessels of Victory
The message says it all

A variety of other events are taking place at the Arboretum to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. They include a photographic exhibition of D-Day veterans within the Remembrance Centre, which also continues until September, and Operation Overlord: Heroes of D-Day Guided Walks which will be held from June 6 to November 11 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 1.30pm. The walk, which costs 3 per person, will enable visitors to discover some of the memorials with links to D-Day. They will hear about the Normandy landings, the glider pilots, and the Special Operations Executive as well as many other stories during the hour long walk.
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Why? Chance to contribute to art project on D-Day anniversary
When: 1 June to 15 September
Phone: 01283 245100
Where: National Memorial Arboretum, Croxall Road, Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent DE13 7AR
Cost: Free
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