Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, and with this in mind I wanted to share with you a new project we’re running as part of the Gateway to History project.
You may have seen on the news today that there are a lot of anniversary ceremonies and services taking place out in Normandy. Veterans from across the UK are attending, including those from York, remembering the heroic role they played in D-Day 70 years ago.
This anniversary is a particularly important one, as it is the last one that most of our veterans will see. The national organisation, Normandy Veterans, exists to support veterans up until the 70th anniversary, so this year also marks the end of this official organisation. For the members of the York Branch, the organisation is a social support network; allowing individuals to regularly get together, fundraise and arrange visits to Normandy. The York branch will carry on from 2014 as a social group for as long as it is needed.
Last month, a fundraiser for the group who is responsible for making the York Veteran’s visit to Normandy happen this year, approached the Archive service. The veterans were concerned about their legacy and future of their archive collections. It was a moving conversation and by acting now we can preserve the records of the group and the individual stories they represent.
I’m thrilled to announce that over the coming months we’ll be running a Normandy Veterans York Legacy project to collaboratively catalogue the archives of individual York veterans, and the official archive of the Normandy Veterans: York Branch. We’ve recruited two fantastic University of York Public History MA student volunteers who, as part of a 4 week project, will work with the veterans to create a catalogue of their archives. They will be recording information that could otherwise be lost such as the names of people in photographs and the acts of bravery behind their medals.
The archive collections will be transferred to the new archive facility at York Explore library in 2015, leaving a lasting legacy for our Normandy Veterans in York.
There will be more details to follow in July/August 2014 as we begin the project.