D-Day veteran's charity Follows the Queen's Lead: "We WILL Meet Again!"
- Credit: The Hill 112 memorial site
By Peter Williams (posted by Anna Lambert)
A key sentence in a speech which Her Majesty the Queen gave to the nation at the height of the Covid pandemic has inspired a Canterbury-based charity to organise a Forties Show, titled We WILL Meet Again, at Betteshanger Country Park, near Deal, over the weekend of September 11 and 12.
Visitors will be taken back to the years of World War Two and will hear the music of the Forties, see teams of re-enactors with vehicles that helped to win the war, a Spitfire that protected the skies above Kent when Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany, and a Huey helicopter. At the beginning of Britain's Heritage Week, the show will also exhibit the best of Kentish products - food, including a NAAFI waggon, trade stalls, arts and crafts and fashions of the 1940s period.
The weekend is being organised by the Hill 112 Memorial Foundation, set up to complete the work of the late Sergeant Gunner Albert Figg, who lived in Rough Common, Canterbury, and spent the last 30 years of his life creating a memorial on Hill 112 in Normandy, where 7,000 troops died in one of the bloodiest battles of World War Two in the weeks after D Day. Albert fought in that battle and lost many friends. He determined their sacrifice should never be forgotten, and, a Churchill tank, a 25-pounder field gun, and a statue of an unknown infantryman
now stand on the crest of Hill 112.
In 1988/89, with the support of a number of donors, Albert was able to buy and then renovate the World War Two Churchill Tank. The statue of an infantryman was donated by Michael Whitely, and 112 trees that have since been planted in the shape of a Maltese Cross, creating four Avenues of Remembrance, where relatives and friends can place a wooden poppy cross. In 2018 the most recent addition to the site, the 25-pounder field gun was purchased in part by Ben Oostra. In July 2017 the statue of the infantryman was relocated to the centre of the trees and unveiled by HRH The Earl of Wessex. Sadly Albert died just a few days before this ceremony. On July 5, 2014, Albert, a man from humble beginnings, was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur, the highest decoration France can bestow.
Albert's daughter, Annette Oliver, chairs the Hill 112 Memorial Foundation, and HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, is its Patron. Annette Oliver says:" "We still need to raise about £50,000 in the short term to complete the extraordinary work my father set out to achieve. We were inspired by Her Majesty's words and by the example of the spirit of determination that she and her family showed during the war and are still showing today. We've been through hard times again in the past two years and that determination is as necessary today as it was in the Forties.
"Kent has always been a front-line county. We're proud of our county, its traditions and what it can produce. So, the weekend will showcase all that's best in Kent, as well as reminding those who come of the contributions Kent has made to the country's prosperity, in agriculture, horticulture and coal mining, with a talk on the Kent coalfield during the war, when the Betteshanger mine was bombed."
Tickets for the weekend, We WILL Meet Again: The Forties Show may be booked in advance for £7.50 each day on the Saturday and Sunday, or £12 for a weekend ticket (children under 13 free). See thehill112.com for more information.
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