ILKLEY marked the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings with a commemoration event and beacon lighting in the town's Memorial Garden.

The Royal British Legion, supported by Ilkley Town Council, joined the national commemoration of D-Day 80 on June 6, 2024.

Wreaths were laid at the town's Cenotaph to pay tribute to the 156,000 Allied troops who landed on Normandy's coast on 6 June, 1944, the start of a campaign to liberate Nazi-occupied north-western Europe. The anniversary was also marked by a beacon lighting at 9.15pm.

Suzanne Watson DL, Ilkley Town Crier Isabel Ashman and Ilkley Mayor Cllr Damian Kearns Suzanne Watson DL, Ilkley Town Crier Isabel Ashman and Ilkley Mayor Cllr Damian Kearns

Ilkley played a part in the invasion. It was a base camp for a group of Canadian forces as they travelled to join the ships around Portsmouth.

In addition seven Ilkley residents died during the invasion. Corporal John Edmund Hoyle, RAC, died on 10th June; both Sapper James Hampshire, RE and 2nd Lieutenant Edward Ugarte, RA died of their wounds on 18th June; Lieutenant Lewis Marten, RA was killed on 6th July; Bombardier Rayburn Oldreive, RA perished on 11th July, and Fusilier Jack Hodgson RNF died in active service on 14th August. The first Ilkley resident to die was a non-combatant. Kenneth Mortimer, a member of the St Johns Ambulance Brigade and the Royal Army Medical Corps. He drowned in the Channel on D-Day morning - the sea was rough and while disembarking from a landing craft he was engulfed by a large wave. He was almost dead when rescued and failed to respond to artificial respiration.

All were remembered at the event which started at about 8.30pm with local dignitaries and residents in attendance.

Ilkley Town Crier, Isabel Ashman opened proceedings with the D-Day 80 Proclamation. Music from the Two Rivers Band and 1224 (Wharfedale) Squadron followed, with a laying of wreaths, reading on the international tribute and finally the lighting of the D-Day 80 Beacon.

Ilkley Town Councillor Steve Butler acted as master of ceremonies and the prayer was given by David Callander, Minister at Ilkley Baptist Church.

At the end Cllr Butler thanked everyone for attending and gave a special mention to Dougie Lawson from The Royal British Legion for his work in organising the event.

Deputy Lieutenant Suzanne Watson said it was real privilege to attend the event representing the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire

She said: "With music, memories of local men lost, the International Tribute read by 1224Wharfedale cadets and the lighting of the beacon, it was a fitting close to an incredibly moving day."