Trebah Remembers 80th Anniversary Of D-Day

Trebah Remembers 80th Anniversary Of D-Day

Annual Military Day commemorates 80 years since U.S. soldiers left Cornish garden for Normandy

Yesterday Trebah Garden held its annual Military Day, which this year bore special significance, marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the garden’s involvement in the largest seaborne invasion in history.

The family day of remembrance and commemoration welcomed veterans and guests, saw military vehicles descend to the beach from where the soldiers embarked in 1944 and there were performances from Kernow Pipe and Drums, Culdrose Military Wives Choir and Rachel Best. Later in the afternoon a short memorial service, including the Last Post and Reveille, was held before a helicopter wreath laying at sea, assisted by RNAS Culdrose, the RNLI and Helford River Gig Club.

Trebah played an important role in D-Day and was home to thousands of American GIs who, after months of preparation and training, departed from the quiet Cornish beach for the treacherous battlefield of Omaha beach in Normandy, France.

In the run up to their embarkation, the beach was converted for military use and the original granite boathouse was dynamited. A large jetty was built in the middle of the cove and flexible concrete ‘chocolate block’ matting was laid to cover the shingle and allow vehicle access.

On 1 June 1944, a regiment of 7,500 men of the 29th US Infantry Division, along with their tanks, guns and transport, left Trebah’s beach in ten 150-foot flat-bottomed LST landing craft. For five days they battled through enormous seas to the Isle of Wight and then on to the D-Day assault, landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy on 6th June where they suffered grievous casualties.

In the 1960s the beach was partially restored by then-garden-owner Donald Healey, of Austin-Healey motorcar fame, though even today reminders of Trebah’s wartime contribution are still very much apparent in the concrete which remains on part of the beach and the chocolate block matting which was repurposed onto nearby paths.

The annual Military Day began when the garden was under the ownership of Major Tony MBE MC (1917 - 2014) and Eira Hibbert (1917 - 2009). After a decorated military career during World War Two, including fighting at Arnhem and receiving the Military Cross in 1945, Tony and Eira purchased Trebah in 1981. Together they began a programme of work to restore the garden to its former glory, before passing ownership of the house, garden and cottages to Trebah Garden Trust in 1990.

Speaking about Military Day, Trebah’s CEO Jon Cummins says, “Military Day is much more than an event for us at Trebah. It’s vital we play our part in commemorating the brave men and women who embarked at Trebah Beach, that we highlight what happened here as part of our wider local history and that we continue to host Military Day annually, which has become a tradition in itself. The team and I were once again proud to work with the Parachute Regimental Association and all the other groups and associations that support the occasion and, importantly this year, to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day.”

Tom French, trustee of the Royal Cornwall Branch of the Parachute Regimental Association says, “For over 25 years we have commemorated the brave deeds of the men of the 29th US Infantry Division at Trebah. The Royal Cornwall Branch of the Parachute Regimental Association’s connection with Trebah Garden began through one of our late Presidents, Major Tony Hibbert, and we will continue to remember the sacrifice that generation made.”

The whole team at Trebah would like to thank the Parachute Regimental Association Royal Cornwall Branch and Mawnan Smith WI for making this special Military Day possible.

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