Robert Purver

A new photography exhibition featuring portraits of D-Day veterans has opened at the National Memorial Arboretum.

The SIX.SIX.FORTYFOUR showcase features 29 images of those who were part of Operation Overlord in 1944.

Robert Purver. Pic: Stuart Wood

Robert Purver from Derby is one of the veterans featured in the exhibition.

Landing at Juno Beach alongside Canadian forces, he sprinted from his landing craft as soon as the front lowered, holding the responsibility of identifying the quickest routes off the beach for the soldiers.

As he advanced toward the enemy lines shells whistled over his head from the allied naval bombardment and a squadron of Spitfires soared by, opening fire on the German defences to make them easier for the landing force to breach.

As men fell and died all around him, Robert persevered and kept running.

Curator Stuart Wood said: “SIX.SIX.FORTYFOUR is the culmination of several years work, capturing the spirit of these veterans on camera and documenting their stories of heroism, resulting in a unique tribute to service.

“I’m immensely proud of the finished exhibition and urge everyone to visit and learn more about these incredible individuals who did so much for us and our country.”

As well as those serving on the front line, the exhibition also pays tribute to those who worked diligently behind the scenes to ensure D-Day went to plan.

Nanza Downey. Pic: Stuart Wood

Among them is Nanza Downey from Birmingham who served as a wireless operator.

Working at Forest Moor Y-station in North Yorkshire, she listened to German stations, copying their coded messages which were then passed on to Bletchley Park.

Nanza was working the night shift at 3am on 6th June 1944 when she was informed that the invasion had begun following the unexpected appearance of army intelligence officers and the Germans broadcasting un-coded messages, signally that something highly unusual was taking place.

Admission to the SIX.SIX.FORTYFOUR exhibition – which runs until 1st September – is free.

Chris Ansell, exhibitions officer at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: “This exhibition is part of our summer programme of commemorative events as we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, a heroic endeavour on the part of tens of thousands of individuals and a turning point during the Second World War.

“Our exhibitions programme continually seeks to offer ways of engaging with Remembrance through cultural experiences and Stuart’s work is a fantastic tribute to all who served in D-Day”


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