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Routes of Remembrance is a poignant initiative set up by The Veterans Charity, which will see wreaths of tribute touring the country and even overseas.
It follows the huge success of the Poppies to Paddington event held last year in conjunction with Great Western Railway, which saw more than 200 wreaths make their way on trains to the station war memorial on the morning of Armistice Day, November 11.
A similar event is taking place this year, with one of the Routes of Remembrance having recently led to the Mennaye Field, Penzance. The reason, for those not aware, is that on the 26th June 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower made a visit there to inspect US Troops stationed in Penzance, when he was accompanied by another famous American in General George Patton. Indeed, in June 2015 a plaque was unveiled at the entrance to the Pirates ground that records the event. The wording on the plaque reads ‘General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe inspected the troops of the U.S. 35th Infantry Division on this Mennaye Field on 26 June 1944’.
Further to this, in liaison with Iain Henderson, who is a present Trustee of The Veterans Charity, the Mennaye Field has been one of several places in the county where a wreath has been taken before, on Thursday 11th November, it will leave Penzance Railway Station in the early hours bound for Paddington Station. Once there, along with numerous other such wreaths it will form a centrepiece for what will again be a very poignant Remembrance Service.
Dozens of Veterans, military personnel, VIPs and representatives from many companies and organisations involved in delivering the wreaths will be present, together remembering those who have fallen in so many conflicts.
More About General Eisenhower’s 1944 Visit
Cheered by nearly 2,000 local residents, it was reported in ‘The Cornishman’ at the time that General Eisenhower looked fit and well as he waved to the people, smiling and appearing confident. He took his place on the bank at the Mennaye Field from which he was to take the salute and before leaving he drew the troops around him to speak to them. Also present that day was the Mayor of Penzance, Robert Thomas, plus a number of prominent townsmen.
General Eisenhower was aware of the high state of training which the Regiment had achieved, and he expressed his confidence in the ability of the 134th Infantry Regiment, which formed part of the 35th Infantry Division during WW2, to do whatever job might be assigned to it. He said that he looked forward to the future with a promise of a “party on the Rhine.”
Orders would soon arrive that the troops would be moved across the channel, and as part of the back up to the initial D-Day landings on the 6th June they landed at Omaha Beach on the 5th July. Many towns were liberated, but there were also inevitably many casualties. The Regiment would eventually return home to the United States on the “Queen Mary” after the war’s end on the 5th September, 1945.
During their time in Cornwall – described as the Riviera or the California of Britain – troops had been billeted in houses, small hotels, and other buildings set aside for the purpose in the west of the county, and they made numerous friends as they had done wherever they had been.
The 1st Battalion was stationed in Penzance, the 2nd in St. Ives, Company H in Hayle. There were other bases for various units at Camborne, Clowance Estate, Land’s End, Lizard Point, Marazion, Porthleven, Praa Sands, and Redruth.
It is possible to view film footage of the American troops marching up through Market Jew Street, Penzance (on approx. 17 minutes 50 seconds), and then into the Mennaye Field on the 26th June, 1944, please link to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jOkHrAlt0M