On June 6th 1944 thousands of young men with their whole lives ahead of them, embarked on the boldest and most important invasion in human history. With Europe having endured years of brutal Nazi Tyranny, fighting on the eastern front between Russia and Germany costing the lives of millions on each side, the D-Day invasion of Normandy was to open up a second front of World War 2 in Europe and bring about the downfall of Nazi Germany by stretching German forces between two fronts. Along with the thousands of young soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy or parachuted behind enemy lines to sieze vital roads and bridges on the night before the D-Day landings took place, there were thousands of young men and women supporting them through the movement and manufacture of equipment vital to the success of the landings. It is this equipment which survives today and which, with your help, will go on surviving long after the last veterans leave us.
With the D-Day landings now approaching their 72nd anniversary in June 2016 and the Normandy Veterans Associations having disbanded in 2014, on the 70th Anniversary, it is clear the numbers of those who took part in this incredible event of human history are sadly dwindling as time marches on. With each passing year the numbers of those remaining to tell their stories and to educate future generations of the horrors of what they endured for our freedom, get ever fewer and it is now down to later generations to keep their memory alive and ensure we learn from the lessons of history.
In order to continue the memory of the thousands of young men who perished on D-Day and the ensuing Battle of Normandy in 1944, it has never been more important to preserve their memory through the telling of their stories and the showing of their equipment. Throughout the history of the human race it is stories passed down from generation to generation which has enabled us to learn and develop and it is critical events in time, such as D-Day, about which these stories are told. In 2015 I sourced a 1944 Willys MB Jeep from the United States. The Willys MB Jeep was the daily work horse of the allied armies and approx. 740,000 were manufactured throughout the war and distributed to all fronts of the conflict. As you can expect from a vehicle that has been through WW2 and is now over 70 years old, my Willys MB was in need of complete restoration. Upon arrival in the UK I set about restoring the body and cosmetics of the Jeep, which are now complete. I am currently completing the restoration of the engine and transmission and these will be completed over the next 2 months in time for the 2016 Summer season of shows, exhibitions, commemorations and peak tourism season.
My project is to purhase a trailer and tow vehicle in order to launch a tour company offering tours of both the UK and Normandy D-Day sites by WW2 Jeep. The proposal is to provide tailored tours for groups of 2 to 4 guests. The tour day/half day will provide guests with the comfort of a modern vehicle for driving between sites and they will then transfer to the Jeep at the sites being visited to provide them with the authentic experience of following in the footsteps of history. Driving in a WW2 Jeep along the landing beaches of Normandy, tracing the footsteps of relatives by Jeep from the beaches of Normandy through to the hedgerows and villages so hard fought in 1944. The experience and atmosphere of driving through Normandy, which has changed very little since WW2, experiencing the key sites and pivotal moments of the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy in a genuine WW2 Willys Jeep is an experience that will truly make history come alive. The ability to experience the WW2 Jeep in the heart of the Normandy countryside, where it was the workhorse and lifeline of the Invasion of Europe in 1944, is an experience as close to being in a time machine as it is possible to achieve.
Please support my project to enable me to not only continue as the guardian of this iconic piece of WW2 history but more importantly to continue to educate current and future generations about the sacrifices made by all sides during WW2 and specifically the D-Day landings.