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D-Day commemorations: entertaining on eve of invasion

Peter Hickin entertaining at the Rasen Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 2012 EMN-140506-102743001

Peter Hickin entertaining at the Rasen Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 2012 EMN-140506-102743001

Commemorations to mark the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings has brought back some special memories for one Market Rasen resident.

Peter Hickin was just 17 years of age on the eve of the Allied invasion of Normandy.

But he was playing his part in keeping up morale for the troops awaiting deployment.

“I was in Sheffield at the time working in the engineering industry, a reserved occupation,” he told the Rasen Mail.

“But I was a member of the VES Northern Command - the Voluntary Entertainment Service, an off-shoot of ENSA.

“On June 5 1944, we were entertaining Canadian troops at a big country manor in Cawthorne near Barnsley.

“We played until around 10pm; we knew there was something pending, as they had kept banging on about an assault for a few weeks.

“And within 24 hours, those troops were on the Normandy beaches - and many didn’t survive.”

Peter continued with the VES until a couple of years after the war ended.

“Entertainment was an important part of life; morale of troops and others on the homefront needed to be high.”

And Peter continues to entertain and can often be seen at the MR Big market and other special occasions in and around the town.

An interview with Peter will feature in a special report on BBC Radio Sheffield tomorrow, June 6, between 7am and 10am

 

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