10th June 2024

RBLI Commemorates The 80th Anniversary of D-Day with a Beacon Lighting Ceremony

Royal British Legion Industries (RBLI) Village in Aylesford, Kent marked the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy with a poignant beacon lighting ceremony that was attended by 150 members of the community. The event took place on 6 June, paying tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of those who participated in the historic Normandy Landings.


Pete Gower, a resident of RBLI’s village, whose father Arthur was among the courageous men who landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, had the honour of lighting the beacon at 9.15pm. Arthur Gower’s contributions, along with countless others, were instrumental in the Allied victory that ultimately led to the liberation of Western Europe during the Second World War.


The ceremony was a moving reminder of the extraordinary courage displayed by the servicemen and women from all branches of the Armed Forces. It also highlighted the significant efforts of those who supported the war effort on the home front.


RBLI’s Chief Executive, Lisa Farmer, addressed the attendees, emphasising the importance of commemorating this pivotal moment in history. “As we light this beacon, we honour the memory of those who served on D-Day and the following days, both on the beaches of Normandy and back home in Britain. Their bravery, determination, and sacrifices paved the way for the freedoms we enjoy today. It is our duty to remember and ensure their stories continue to be told for generations to come.”


As Lisa Farmer spoke, behind her on RBLI’s Wall of Honour a memorial plaque reads: 0866030 SGT RH BROWN RE. Missed by his children and the family he never met. Died Caen 27 June 1944. We are proud of you.


RBLI’s village, known for its commitment to supporting veterans and their families, provided a fitting backdrop for this significant anniversary. The community’s turnout reflected a deep respect and recognition for the historic importance of D-Day.

The commemorative service acted as an enduring reminder of the sacrifices made during D-Day and reinforced the commitment to preserving the legacy of those who fought for freedom and peace.


The event included two minutes of silence, allowing attendees to reflect on the profound impact of 6 June 1944, and to pay their respects to the fallen. Veterans in attendance from later conflicts shared their stories, creating a connection between past and present generations.


At 9.10pm, before the beacon was lit, RBLI was honoured that Pipe Major Chic Mackie accompanied by the Nelson Mackie Band, played Highland Laddie, just as Piper William ‘Bill’ Millen had played it on Sword Beach 80 years before.


Speaking of this, Pipe Major Chic said, “I came here tonight to honour Piper Bill, who stood on Sword Beach with just a sgian-dubh as a weapon and played Highland Laddie. Many years later when Piper Bill spoke with former German soldiers, he asked why they hadn’t shot him. They replied, ‘We didn’t shoot you because we thought you were mad.” Bill Millen was the Personal Piper to Simon Fraser, Commander British 1st Special Service Brigade.