D-Day charity bike ride uncovers lost history

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22 March 2024

SSAFA has organised a D-Day charity cycle ride starting on the 80th anniversary of D-Day (6 June 2024), which will visit the invasion's landing sites as well as following the Allied Forces' routes into France. The famous historian, Christian Wolmar, will be accompanying the team and giving talks along the way, including the fascinating part the railways played in the invasion.

Christian is an author and historian who specialises in the influence of the railway on large-scale historic events such as 'Railways and the Raj', 'Engines of War', and his most recent book, 'The Liberation Line: the last untold story of the Normandy Landings', due to be published in May, which tells the story of these railwaymen-soldiers for the first time. He is also a keen cyclist.

He commented: “I have been researching and writing about the role the railways played in the D-Day landings for the last 18 months, and I’m a cyclist, so when I saw that SSAFA were taking a cycling team across for D-Day I really wanted to get involved.”

Christian will be giving talks in the evenings of the charity ride about his research on the D-Day landings, and the wider context and importance of transport links, and the railway’s role in shortening the war.

Christian said: “I cannot imagine anything more exciting that following in the footsteps of the men who forged a path for troops. Supply is everything in war, and the railways were vital to the Allies’ triumph.”

The cycle event is a fully guided and supported three-day tour of key sites in Normandy, with talks from historians to give context and depth to the experience. Team members will have the chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with D-Day veterans at the acts of remembrance during the week of the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings. On the 6th June they will cycle to Sword, Juno and Gold Beaches, including the British Normandy Memorial near Ver-sur-Mer before heading inland towards Bayeux and laying a wreath at the British Cemetery to mark the historic day.

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