Normandy veterans are Last of the Liberators in Imperial War Museum portrait show

By Lucy Wright | 28 April 2014

A poignant photographic exhibition, The Last of the Liberators, portrays the harrowing tales of 15 remarkable Normandy veterans

A photo of a war veteran standing on a street in a suit adorned with his medals
Nick Archdale, one of the heroes portrayed in a new exhibition at IWM Duxford© Robin Savage
A new exhibition commemorating the experiences of some of the last remaining D-day veterans is to open next week at Imperial War Museum Duxford.

Part of the D-Day 70th anniversary events held by the museum, the portraits featured were produced by freelance photographer Robin Savage, whose portraiture photography has been published in the national press.

“The commemorations in Normandy can often be a busy period for the veterans,” says Savage. “It is a time for private remembrance for these individuals and I was immensely moved by the gracious kindness of the veterans.”

One portrait remembers the location where veteran Nick Archdale, of the 7th Battalion, came under fire and was left temporarily blinded by fragments of brick from ricocheting bullets.
 
Nick was left in charge of his company in Benouville, with only 11 men left alive out of an original 104 following the loss of their commanding officer and the decimation of his patrol.

The return of these war heroes to these special locations, perhaps for the last time, will also be documented in a new book of the same name, recalling the famous airborne assault of 39 Allied divisions, totalling more than a million troops, on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. D-day claimed the lives of more than 420,000 Allied and German troops and now.

This exhibition also honours the work of female nurses during the battle – reflected on by Savage in his touching photograph of Vera Hay.

Hay was one of the first British nurses to land in Normandy and the dangerous and sketchy route to her field hospital, the Chateau de Beaussy, took her about 24 hours to complete.

Arriving a week after D-Day, Vera treated up to 200 casualties per day. At first she was only able to sleep in a ditch for two or three hours at a time in between treating patients.

  • The Last of the Liberators is at IWM Duxford from April 29 – December 2014.

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Went to the opening of the exhibition and book launch at Duxford today. Tremendous work by Robin, very powerful and poignant. I was also moved to meet two of the veterans featured in the exhibition and book.

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