Lyme’s link with Normandy Memorial

THERE were some emotional scenes on our local television station last week when D-Day veteran Harry Billinge was able to visit the new British Memorial in Normandy.

Harry, now 96 years old, was an 18-year-old Sapper when he landed in Normandy on June 6 1944. He lost many friends in the Battle of Normandy and has spent his life raising money to honour his former colleagues who made the supreme sacrifice.

Awarded the MBE by Her Majesty The Queen, Harry has campaigned for many years for a memorial in Normandy to honour the 22,442 servicemen men and women under British control who lost their lives.

The British Normandy Memorial was officially open by the Prince of Wales, and Harry, who is feted in France as much as he is in England, was able to see his dream come true this week.

You might ask what has this got to do with Lyme Regis? Well quite a bit, actually.

There were nine men of Lyme who lost their lives in the Battle of Normandy and one presumes their names will be on the memorial.

There is a unique relationship between Lyme Regis and Normandy through the twinning of Lyme Regis Football Club and their counterparts in the village of Creully, the first village to be liberated on June 6 1944 by the Royal Dragoon Guards.

Creully has an 11th century castle where the BBC based themselves after the D-Day landings and Field Marshal Montgomery used a chateau just outside the village for his headquarters where he met with the King and Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill soon after the invasion.

The twinning arrangement between Lyme Regis FC and US Creully has been going for 40 years and is unique in England and French footballing circles.

When we first travelled to Creully in 1980 for a game of football and a barbecue, memories of the war were still quite raw. Today, I don’t think there is anyone in the village who was alive when they were under occupation.

The club has been privileged to attend many occasions at the Creully war memorial, including the 50th anniversary when Prince Charles was present, but it was many years later we learned that nine men of Lyme had died within ten kilometres of the village.

We discovered this after painstaking research by David Humphrey and Vernon Rattenbury on behalf of the Royal British Legion and after being informed of this we visited several of the war cemeteries and placed remembrance crosses on the graves.

Over the next couple of weeks you will see members and supporters of the Lyme Regis branch of the Royal British Legion selling poppies on street corners in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday (November 14).

Unfortunately, there will not be a full remembrance service in St Michael’s Parish Church due to continuing concerns about COVID-19, but there will be a parade from the entrance of Langmoor Gardens through the town to the war memorial in Monmouth Street which contains the 100 names of the men of Lyme who lost their lives in two world wars.

There will be a short service, including the reading of the names of all those men who never returned home and an opportunity for organisations and individuals to place a wreath or cross at the memorial.

As president of the Lyme branch , I urge you to give your support.

Does anyone want to join the council?

LYME will not be going to the polls to fill the vacancy on the town council following the resignation of deputy mayor Kelsey Ellis.

Miss Ellis, who was the council’s youngest member and was expected to be mayor next year, stood down because she has moved away from the area.

Her letter of resignation was a devastating condemnation of the council’s unruly behaviour and petty point-scoring with references to bullying and the explosive revelation she had received aggressive emails and faced discrimination when she was elected deputy mayor.

These allegations, which are still reverberating around the Guildhall, came after mayor Brian Larcombe had warned councillors about their behaviour on at least two occasions.

In his annual report on the council’s risk assessment, town clerk John Wright, not for the first time, said the biggest risk to the council was the poor behaviour of councillors. He also referred in his report to some councillors being in denial about the manner in which they behaved.

This is serious stuff. The town is being held to ridicule and in this column I have suggested that the council is no longer fit for purpose.

The only way the electorate can pass judgement on the behaviour of councillors is through the ballot box. But there won’t be another election until 2023.

There could have been an election if ten council taxpayers demanded one to fill Miss Ellis’ position, but that has not happened, a testament surely that the people of Lyme have lost interest in local government – and who can blame them?

The council will now try to fill the vacancy by co-option and anyone interested will be asked to submit a letter. I know of several who have considered standing for office but decided against it because they don’t want to be dragged into the petty-politicking of those who behave so badly.

Those who are considering putting their name forward will be saying to themselves: “Do I want to get involved with this? Do I want to be tarred with the same brush?”

What amazes me is that those councillors who do behave themselves and act with dignity (and there are several) do not publicly distance themselves from those to whom the town clerk was referring.

The public deserves to know who is bringing the council and town into disrepute.

This newspaper often gets blamed for fanning the flames and we have taken a decision this week that we will no longer print letters from councillors who use our columns to express a view on council related matters or are critical of other members. We will be happy to consider publishing letters from elected members on matters outside the council chamber but reserve the right to edit these.

A tour of Lyme in the 1920s

THE people of Lyme Regis, especially those born in the town, love nostalgia.

We know this only too well at LymeOnline as there is always a great response when we print an old photograph and, when we organised a slide show from the collection of prints taken by the late Percy Bird, the Woodmead Halls was packed and we raised £600 for Alzheimer’s. T

his year Lyme Regis Museum is celebrating its 100th anniversary and has succeeded in teasing out of retirement Lyme’s King of Nostalgia, Ken Gollop.

It won’t be one of his famous ‘Under Shady Tree’ presentations but to mark the museum’s milestone Ken has agreed to host a slideshow on Lyme in the 1920s.

It will include previously unseen photos of that era including an event at the harbour in 1926 called ‘The Landing of the Phoenicians’. It will be taking place at the Woodmead Halls on November 7. Don’t miss it.

JOIN OUR MAILING LISTStay up to date with all the news from Lyme Regis, Uplyme & Charmouth by signing up to our regular newsletter.

View our privacy policy.

Donate to LymeOnline