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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 June, 2004, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Return to beach for Welsh veterans
Veterans' march
Up to 1,100 British Veterans marched at Colville-Montgomery
Welsh D-Day veterans have taken part in their first official commemoration service for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The former soldiers joined a British Veterans march from Sword Beach past a statue of Field Marshal Montgomery in the town of Colville Montgomery.

A total of 1,100 from the UK who took part in the Normandy landings in 1944 took part in the service.

Among the participants were a group who had travelled from Cardiff.

Tony Pengelli was with the 2nd Monmouthshires when the invasion of France began in 1944.

He told BBC Wales: "Yesterday, I was present at the dedication of a memorial which the people of the little village of Maizet have opened for the 4th Welch who were what you might call the liberators.

"I had my picture taken in 1944 in a village just four or five kilometres down the road, and when I produced this photograph of myself with a little old lady dressed in black, people were astounded.

Statue of Field Marshal Montgomery
A service was held at the statue of Field Marshal Montgomery
"She was the only woman who had stayed in the village - everybody else had fled.

"There were three people there who knew her, who were children at the time.

"This transformed the weekend for me because instead of just being somebody here for this big celebration, I was now part of Normandy."

'Freedom'

Not all the travellers to France from Wales were elderly.

Simon Dodd, 15, joined the veterans' trip because he wanted to meet people first-hand who were involved in the historic military landings.

He said: "I wanted the experience to meet some of the people who have given me the freedom I enjoy today and to hear the stories they have to tell.

"It's better than anything you can get from a book or TV programme and they are just fantastic people.

"It's such an honour and a privilege to be here with them."

Simon added the veterans had a great sense of humour and had been telling him some of the funnier stories from their time in France.

"They are very lively which is completely the opposite of how I expected them to be," he said.

"I thought it was going to be a bit sombre especially at the graveyard but they see [the grave of] one of their comrades who fell in the war and are laughing and joking about what he was like instead of just mourning him."



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