This was a unique project to leave a worthy national memorial to the men and women who died on D-Day from across dozens of allied countries.
The British memorial stands on rising ground in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, overlooking Gold Beach, one of the five D-Day landing sites. Over 70% of the 60-acre site has been regenerated as wildflower meadow, with plant species sown to attract indigenous wildlife.
While the site is formally the British Memorial, it actually commemorates combatants from 38 different countries worldwide, who fought and died during the campaign.
History in stone
Over 3,700 tonnes of stone were used during construction. The main Memorial Court features 8-metre high stone walls, hand-carved with quotes from the King of England, Churchill, de Gaulle and others. The centrepiece is a three 3-metre bronze sculpture of soldiers atop a one-piece 27-tonne granite plinth.
Adorning the 160 stone pillars are the names of each of the 22,442 soldiers, sailors, or airmen who were killed. There is also a memorial to the 20,000 French civilians who died during the campaign.
This is the most significant British war memorial built in the last 50 years, with the youngest surviving servicemen from WW2 now nearing 100 years of age. However, timing proved complicated for other reasons too.
With a desire to complete the memorial in time to be experienced by surviving servicemen, the arrival of a pandemic that closed down large parts of the European economy saw the project adapt and grow flexible to ensure delivery could continue.
Complex and diverse challenges
Being the site of one of the most significant battles in European history, the project had to manage extensive archaeology sensitively, respond to discoveries of unexploded ordnance, and deal with contaminated land.
Being at the coast, the project also had to manage the impact of two named storms (Ciara and Dennis) along with waterlogged ground that threatened to delay the works at critical moments.
As a result of all these complications, the pandemic, extensive cross-border supply chains, specialist materials and more, the project put a great deal of trust in technical and legal experts to help keep the project on track.
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