BACK before covid, members of Abergavenny’s amateur theatre companies were at the start of rehearsals for a production called Saucepans to Spitfires, which was planned to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Sadly, along with everything else those plans fell foul of the pandemic lockdowns and were abandoned, with only an online medley of some of the musical numbers marking the occasion.

This week however we’ve had a chance to revive some of the plans as Abergavenny joins with the rest of the country to mark the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

A4B - the group representing the amateur companies at the Borough Theatre was invited by Abergavenny Town Council to take part in the commemorations and we were only too happy to oblige so tomorrow night (Thursday) some amazingly talented local singers, dancers and actors will take to the stage in the market hall to recreate an evening of wartime entertainment.

As part of it I was asked to write a few short monologues telling the story of a family at war and the impact D-Day had on them and as this was a period of history I haven’t studied since I was doing my O’levels…several years ago…I started to do some research.

Over my many years with the Chronicle, we’ve covered a number of stories of the incredibly brave local men who were part of the war-changing operation and I’ve alway been amazed at their resilience and they way they spoke in such a matter of fact manner about putting their lives on the line and heading into battle.

Studying a bit more about the period served only to bring home the horrors of what not only the D-Day veterans endured, but all those who fought in the Second World War.

My own grandfather fought in Burma and never spoke of it - at least not to his family. It was only as an adult, long after he had died that I learned that his regular trips to Abertillery to have his ‘feet done’, which a three year old me saw as a great chance to gaze longingly at the toy shelves in Woolworths, were actually a result of the irreparable damage done to his feet during his years of service.

Others carried far greater wounds both physical and mental and watching archive footage of them parachuting into occupied France at the dead of night or battling fear and sea-sickness as they crossed the rolling seas to Normandy before launching themselves up exposed beaches in heavy, brine sodden uniforms was awe-inspiring in the true sense of the word.

I’m probably about to seem horrendously ancient and staid but with the world again seemingly teetering on the brink of conflict I can’t help but wonder how some of the modern generation who can’t decide whether to be boys, girls or pussy cats would cope….I truly hope they never have to find out.

* For details of Abergavenny’s D-Day 80 commemorations see our special supplement in this week’s Chronicle or visit