BY YANN TEAR
It is exactly 75 years ago that one of the most famous episodes in modern history took place – and a blue plaque in Hammersmith marks the spot.
In the gardens of the former St Paul’s School in Hammersmith Road, one of those familiar circular wall hangings tells us that the final plans for the D-Day landings in Normandy were finalised at this very location.
Just a few weeks before an invasion which changed the course of history, on May 15, 1944, General Bernard Montgomery and his staff presented the final invasion plan to General Dwight Eisenhower and allied senior commanders in the school lecture theatre.
Present at that historic meeting were King George VI and the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.
To mark the anniversary of the beach landings which led to the retaking of continental Europe by the Allied forces, an event is being held in the gardens of the former school in Hammersmith Road, where Operation Overlord was finalised.
The D-Day invasion was one of the most complex military operations ever undertaken, with 160,000 troops crossing the English Channel in a day, supported by hundreds of warships and planes.
The only building surviving from June 6, 1944 is the old school’s High Master’s House (now the St Paul’s Hotel), the front garden, which is today known as St Paul’s Gardens, and the surrounding walls.
But on Saturday, from 11am until 5pm, there will be a commemorative gathering in the gardens with military vehicles, wartime music, food and drink, a children’s obstacle course and fun for all the family.
Schools in Hammersmith and Fulham are invited to enter paintings, drawings and models to a competition on the theme ‘What happened on D-Day?’
“This is an opportunity to commemorate one of the most significant moments in local history, when D-Day and the liberation of Europe in the Second World War was planned by the Allied leaders in Hammersmith,” said Cllr Alan De’Ath, Hammersmith and Fulham’s representative for armed forces community.
The school’s art competition has three age groups, 9-11, 12-13 and 14-16 with a maximum entry of three in each age group per school.
Entries can be paintings, drawings or models, but should be no larger than A3 in size.
They should be delivered to the marquee in the gardens behind St Paul’s Hotel from 8-10am on the day, and collected from 4-5pm on the same day.
Judging will take place during the party, with winning entries receiving £250 for their school, and will go on display in the hotel.