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New programme aims to take people back to D-Day era and close of war

The fashion, music and food of the 1940s will play out at the nation's place of peace across the May Bank Holiday weekend.


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The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas in Staffordshire will transport visitors back in time to 1944 with the launch of a commemorative programme marking the 80th anniversaries of many landmark moments of the Second World War on May 4 and 5.

1940s vintage fashion and music aficionados, living history enthusiasts and families looking for a unique day out will be able to enjoy a free weekend of live music, pop up performances, dance workshops and children’s vintage themed crafts and games.

From the D-Day landings on 6 June which heralded the beginning of the liberation of western Europe to the Battles of Kohima and Imphal in India that helped turn the tide against the Japanese forces, 1944 was a year of seismic change.

There were also significant developments on the home front, with continued food rationing and more than a million children evacuated from cities due to the threat posed by V1 and V2 missile attacks.

As the Nation’s year-round place to Remember, the National Memorial Arboretum is offering a comprehensive programme of events and activities throughout the year, including a new ‘1944 - What’s Your Connection?’ exhibition, guided walks, talks and Remembrance services.

Rachel Smith, head of learning and participation at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: “Life in Britain was very challenging in 1944, with the constant threat of missile attacks, shortages of food and supplies, and tragic news coming back from the front line.

Visitors to the Arboretum during the launch weekend will be transported back to 1944 with free entertainment and activities. Photo: National Memorial Arboretum

"However, it was also a year of dramatic change and military engagements such as D-Day and the Battles of Monte Cassino, Kohima and Imphal were turning the tide in favour of the Allied forces.

“At the Arboretum this year we will be taking visitors on a journey back to 1944 through real stories from people on both the frontline and the home front.

"We’ll be kicking it all off with a weekend packed full of free 1944-themed activities, music, dance and performances to remember and celebrate life in Britain during that landmark year.”

The event will kick off several months of events commemorating 80 years since D-Day, which will feature a Remembrance Service at the Arboretum on June 6 commemorating the Normandy campaign; a major turning point in the Second World War that led to the eventual liberation of Western Europe.

The events will bring the memories of D-Day and the Normandy landings to life

All visitors will be able to watch the D-Day 80 Service of Remembrance in the Arboretum grounds, or as part of a group enjoying a bespoke D-Day 80 groups package.

This year also marks the 80th anniversaries of many other critical moments of the Second World War and visitors are invited to join an Act of Remembrance at 11am in the Arboretum’s Millennium Chapel, followed by a wreath laying at the relevant memorial.

These will take place on May 18 to mark the Battle of Monte Cassino, June 22 for Battle of Kohima, July 18 for Battle of Imphal, September 25 for Operation Market Garden and November 8 for Battle of the Scheldt.

For more information about the visitor programme to commemorate the events and stories from 1944, go to

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