04 June 2019

D-Day veterans unveil CWGC sound installation at Bayeux War Cemetery

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is welcoming people to experience the stories of ‘the greatest generation’ as it today launches a sound installation at CWGC Bayeux War Cemetery.

Veterans at Bayeux cemetery

Voices of Liberation gives the public a chance to immerse themselves in the stories of those who fought in some of the key battles in the Second World War, as well as the importance of CWGC’s places of remembrance in paying tribute to those who never returned.

The installation is in the form of a memorial bench and will be triggered when visitors sit down - playing the recordings of those who have shared their connections to some of the key battles of 1944, as the world marks their 75th anniversary.

The CWGC commemorates more than 100,000 service personnel who died during 1944. Commonwealth servicemen and women are commemorated in CWGC war cemeteries and memorials across the world and today, these iconic sites of remembrance remain places of pilgrimage for veterans and descendants. The sound installation aims to pay tribute to those who gave their lives and shine a light on CWGC’s sites of remembrance.

The Sound installation will be available for the public throughout the commemorations at Bayeux War Cemetery from the 4 June. Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery of the Second World War in France and contains the graves of more than 4200 Commonwealth servicemen.

The public are also able to explore the recordings on the CWGC website and are encouraged to record their own stories and feelings, relating to the Second World War and its sites of remembrance. The stories will reinforce these sites as unique places of memory and create a resource that is both a moment in history and a fitting tribute to those who died.

Veterans with the CWGC interns

The sound installation and accompanying online archive explores the stories of veterans who served in infamous battles during the war, such as that of Normandy veteran Ken Hay. Hay was a private soldier in the infantry and saw action in Normandy in June 1944, shortly after he was captured by the Germans. He was sent to Poland as a prisoner of war and was put to work in the coal mines. Ken now 93 years old, recorded his story to be part of the installation.

“I was wandering up this road by myself, and there was this line of chaps all laying on the side of the road – all asleep! And I called out “what are you doing!” And then I realised the one at the front only had half a body... It was quite vicious… That was a battlefield."

"Can you imagine when you were at school – did you go to Sixth Form? Can you remember being in the Upper Sixth? That was my age. Can you imagine yourself in that sort of a situation at that age? That’s what it was like."

Roy Cadman is just one of the D-Day veterans experiencing the Voices of Liberation Project- In 1944 Roy landed on Sword Beach on D-Day and then fought on the front line for 96 days around Normandy.

Veterans unveiling the bench at Bayeux

Dr Glyn Prysor, Chief Historian at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, said:

“We’re incredibly proud to unveil our Voices of Liberation sound installation, alongside D-Day veterans. Thousands of servicemen like Ken Hey fought in Normandy, and for the 75th anniversary the CWGC has honoured the memory of those who never came home. Everyone visiting France is welcome to come and share this immersive and evocative experience, and we hope that people will be inspired to contribute their own stories through our website.”

Alongside the sound installation the CWGC has launched its new podcast series “Legacy of Liberation”, the six-part series explores the key moments of the Second World war conflict, and the historic cemeteries and memorials which commemorate those who fought and died. Historian Dr Glyn Prysor and heritage expert Dr Lucy Kellett explore the unique experience of visiting these sites of memory and mourning, taking a fresh look at events which have become almost legendary, and examining the artistic, architectural and social legacies of these iconic places.

You can contribute to Voices of Liberation and listen to the podcast here: liberation.cwgc.org

Latest News

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) are pleased to announce the unveiling of their new visitors centre: the CWGC Experience.

Today the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) hosted a ceremony to mark the centenary of the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has today (Monday 17 June) launched a call for UK volunteers to help it continue to remember the war dead on home soil in its brand-new volunteering scheme – Eyes On, Hands On.