D-Day – Exeter City Council

On Thursday 6 June it will be 80 years since Operation Overlord, when allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy during the Second World War. The large-scale operation marked a turning point in the conflict.

The roots of that operation can be traced back to Devon and the Countess Wear road bridge in Exeter in particular, as it was used for the training of troops ahead of the D-Day landings.

The road bridge and swing bridge over the Exeter Ship Canal were chosen because they mirrored the layout of two bridges in Normandy across the River Orne.

Next week, there will be special service and official unveiling of an interpretation board charting the history of the bridges and their role in preparations for the D-Day landings.

Representatives from the 6 Rifles, along with the Deputy Lord Mayor of Exeter, Cllr Paul Knott, and other dignitaries will gather for the occasion.

Later that evening a D-Day beacon will be lit down by the maritime buoy on the King’s Arms Isthmus. There will be a parade of military cadets, music and a lighting of the 80th Anniversary beacon by the Deputy Lord Mayor at around 9.15pm.

The two events have been organised through close working between the City Council’s Lord Mayor’s Office, the 6th Battalion of the Rifles and the Exeter Sea Cadets.

It was back in July 1994 that a heritage stone was unveiled beside the bridges in Countess Wear to mark the role they played in the lead up to D-Day.

In 2021 an interpretation board was added to the site to provide people with more information.

The board was erected by the City Council’s public and green spaces team and funded by Devon County Council, with valuable input from military historian Mike Passmore.

(From Exeter City Council Website)