Memorial stone remembers fallen County Durham soldiers
The Bishop of Durham has blessed a new memorial to local men who fell fighting against the Germans for control of a small French village during World War Two.
The Durham Light Infantry captured the town of Lingevres, near Bayeaux in Normandy, preventing German forces from holding a vital position blocking the Allied advance across Europe. Dozens fell in the little known battle on June 14, 1944.
The memorial stone was made possible by the fundraising efforts of the Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.
For the last few years, fire service Watch manager Allan Pattinson and fellow firefighters have travelled to Normandy to commemorate the anniversary of D-Day.
He said: "As we travelled round, we noticed that there were lots of memorials but none bearing the letters DLI.
"We always go the little village of Lingevres which was the site of a key battle but there was nothing to commemorate their sacrifices, not even at the local church, where the wounded soldiers were taken after the battle.
"We decided to do something to put that right."
The memorial has been crafted out of marble and engraved with the DLI cap badge.
"We feel that it is important that the sacrifices that the men who died at Lingevres should be remembered," Mr Pattinson added.
The memorial stone was worked on by masons at the North East Granite in Langley Moor, County Durham, and was being sent to France this week accompanied by four fire service members.
In one of his first official duties since his enthronement, Bishop Paul Butler was on hand to bless the stone during a ceremony at North East Granite.
The bishop said: "Remembering is part and parcel of how we find healing. Some people think we open up wounds by remembering but, in fact, it makes sure that they heal properly, that we get wholesome healing. It is a real privilege to be here."
Private Dick Atkinson, who took part in the battle, said: "To have the bishop blessing the stone is out of this world. It's a fantastic honour and I never thought it would happen. It would not have happened without the firemen."