On June 6th, 2021, the West Wales Veterans’ Archive and Age Cymru Dyfed commemorated the 77th anniversary of D-Day at an event in Aberporth! The event, titled Our Greatest Generation, was attended by six World War Two veterans, including two who had served in the D-Day landings themselves!
The 2-hour long event was held at the Penrallt Hotel in Aberporth and honoured the many World War Two veterans who call West Wales home. The event gave the veterans an opportunity to come together after a long and difficult year of social isolation to share their experiences with each other as well as current members of the Armed Forces and government officials.
During the event, the Queen’s representative in West Wales, Sara Edwards, Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed, gave a speech in which she thanked the assembled veterans for all that they have done and praised them for their resilience in the face of adversity. Those who attended also enjoyed a delicious tea featuring sandwiches and sweet treats as well as music performed by the band of the Royal British Legion, Llanelli Branch.
“Yours has been called the ‘Greatest Generation’ and that is quite right. You are a very resilient generation. You’ve come through so much and you have so much to teach us who come after you.”
– Sara Edwards –
Lord Lieutenant of Dyfed
A number of World War Two veterans and survivors attended the event, including:
- Royal Navy veteran Tony Bird of Freshwater East who served on Atlantic convoys before taking part in the D-Day landings. He was later stationed in the Far East where he helped with repatriating civilian Prisoners of War from Sumatra as well as British and Indian troops from Burma.
- Royal Marine Commando Ted Owens of Pembroke Dock. He served on D-Day and was badly injured while landing on Sword Beach. He was sent home to recover but returned to Western Europe, fighting his way into the Netherlands. In 2019, he retraced his steps across Europe for an ITV Wales documentary called Lest We Forget.
- Royal Air Force veteran Stan Bartlett of Aberporth, who served as a Flight Engineer on Lancaster Bombers during World War Two. As a 15 year old, he saved five houses from destruction in the Coventry Blitz by putting out fires started by incendiary bombs.
- Royal Air Force veteran John Martin of Tan-y-groes, who served as a wireless operator on Lancaster Bombers. He was shot down over Berlin in 1944 and spent the rest of World War Two in a Prisoner of War camp in Germany. In 2018, he recounted his experiences in the Sunday Times Bestseller A Raid Over Berlin.
- Royal Air Force veteran Dennis Tidswell of Pembroke Dock, who was stationed both in the UK and overseas in Malta during the Second World War. Three of his paintings appear in the West Wales Veterans’ Archive.
- Royal Air Force veteran Bill Needham of Aberporth who served as an Air Gunner on Vickers Wellingtons.
- World War Two survivor Kitty Francis who remembers the air raid warnings and Luftwaffe bombing over her hometown of Pontycymer as well as evacuees and morale boosting games that the locals played. Her older brother Dilwyn served in the Royal Air Force and was killed in action when she was just 9 years old.
The event was also attended by Hayley Edwards of the Armed Forces Covenant; Councillor Paul Hinge, British Army veteran and Chair of Ceredigion County Council; Councillor David Jenkins of Carmarthenshire County Council, who serves as the Armed Forces Champion for the council and is a Royal Air Force veteran himself; Lieutenant Lewis Roach of the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm; Squadron Leader Carl Rich of the Royal Air Force; and the 3rd Cardigan Sea Scouts.
Attendees and guests at the Age Cymru Dyfed D-Day Commemoration event, including World War Two veterans and survivors Ted Owens (front row, far left); Stan Bartlett (front row, second from left); John Martin (front row, third from left); Kitty Francis (front row, fourth from left); Dennis Tidswell (front row, fifth from left); Bill Needham (front row, fifth from right); and Tony Bird (front row, fourth from right)
Both D-Day veterans and living in Pembrokeshire, Ted Owens and Tony Bird met for the first time at “Our Greatest Generation,” an Age Cymru Dyfed event commemorating the 77th anniversary of the landings.
World War Two Lancaster aircrew Stan Bartlett and John Martin shared their experiences at the event.
Lieutenant Lewis Roach Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (on the far left) with members of the 3rd Cardigan Sea Scouts
Aerial photograph of the Penrallt Hotel in Aberporth. Event guests can be seen posing for a photograph at the front of the building.
The West Wales Veterans’ Archive is honoured to be able to present the stories of some of the World War Two veterans who were honoured at Age Cymru Dyfed’s event Our Greatest Generation to commemorate the 77th anniversary of D-Day. Read their stories below!
The West Wales Veterans’ Archive is saddened to learn of the death of World War Two veteran Jean McKay at the age of 99 years.
Can you help us identify the two soldiers in this photo? The two men are thought to be Welsh Guards who fought to liberate the Dutch city of Eindhoven during World War Two.
Age Cymru Dyfed is delighted to have been awarded the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award.