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Colchester paras drop into Normandy to mark 70th anniversary of D-Day
4:00pm Friday 6th June 2014 in News
COLCHESTER paratroopers dropped into Normandy, exactly 70 years after their predecessors.
More than 300 airborne troops attended the three-day D-Day commemoration in northern France, to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
In a special jump, 12 Colchester paras landed in fields near to Ranville which were used as a drop zone on June 6, 1944.
It was the first village to be liberated on D-Day.
The team, which jumped from Lancaster and Dakota aircrafts, and were watched by the Prince of Wales, Colonel in Chief of The Parachute Regiment, and the Chief of the General Staff General Sir Peter Wall.
Colchester-based soldier Pte Nick Rabson, of 16 Medical Regiment, jumped from a Dakota aircraft carrying the parachute wings worn by his grandfather Donald Rabson when he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day.
Pte Rabson, 23, said: “It was a very emotional experience to think I was jumping into the same area that my grandfather did in 1944, although his jump was into hostile territory at night.
“He died last year and didn’t talk much about the war, but what he did say inspired me to become a paratrooper and I know he was proud that I followed in his footsteps.”
On Friday, veterans marched to the Eglise de Ranville, where a mass was held.
A memorial service was also held at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Ranville, where 2,235 Commonwealth soldiers, mostly from 6th Airborne Division, are buried.
In the early hours of D-Day, 7,900 troops from the British 6th Airborne Division landed by parachute and glider.
Their mission was to secure the eastern flank of the invasion beaches by destroying or capturing key transport routes and attacking German positions.
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