10:29am Wednesday 4th June 2014
FOR centuries the village of Droxford had drowsed peacefully in the Hampshire countryside.
But for two days in June 1944 Droxford and its railway station played a critical role in the run-up to D-Day.
Villagers are marking the unique piece of history this week leading up to this year’s 70th anniversary.
With General Eisenhower’s HQ just 10 miles away in Southwick House it was vital for the Allied leaders to meet somewhere nearby that was easily accessible and safe so they could put the finishing touches to the invasion plan.
Droxford was chosen because it was on the Meon Valley railway and had a deep cutting with a siding where a train could be hidden, with the added advantage of a tunnel in the other direction.
On June 2, 1944 Winston Churchill’s special train codenamed ‘Rugged’ arrived at Droxford and on to the platform stepped the PM followed by other allied leaders. They met in a carriage in the siding guarded by the Army and security men; two days later, June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Normandy.
The railway is long gone and is now a bridle path, but the siding where the train stood is still clearly visible and the historic 112-year-old station has been restored by private owners.
Several villagers clearly remember those stirring days and their memories will be re¬corded for screening during Droxford’s D-Day Week, which will include a re-enactment, an exhibition, lectures, a visit to the famous wall map of the landing beaches at South¬wick House and a major design project by children at Droxford Junior School.
Events co-ordinator Michael Profit says: “There are probably former residents, Armed Forces personnel, evacuees, ex-railway staff and their families who were there, or have memorabilia, photographs etc, and I would really appreciate it if they could contact me.”
The remaining programme: Today, June 5 History of Droxford Station and its role in D-Day. Presented by Tony Williams. Droxford Church, 7pm for 7.30pm.
Friday, June 6 Royal British Legion (Droxford & District Branch) Summer Drinks Party. Wallops Wood House.
Saturday, June 7 Displays, re-enactment around the parish church, flypast.
Sunday, June 8 1940s Tea Dance. Droxford Village Hall, 3pm to 6pm.
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