Crowd has 'eyes' in the sky at D-Day tribute (CORRECTED)

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The Independent Online

NEARLY 40,000 people yesterday attended one of the biggest civilian tributes to the D-Day landings as the build-up to the 50th anniversary of the Allied invasion continued over the bank holiday weekend.

Among the attractions at the D- Day show at Bovington Tank Museum, Dorset, was a pilot's view of a dogfight between two historic fighter aircraft.

Microwave technology beamed live pictures to a giant screen of a mock battle overhead between a Spitfire and a Messerschmitt. The on-board pictures were taken by cameras similar to those used in television coverage of Formula One motor- racing.

The event also included a mock-up of a D-Day beach and a evening concert starring Max Bygraves. The money raised will benefit services charities.

In London, veterans from Britain, the US and Canada gathered for a commemorative ceremony at the nerve centre of the D-Day campaign in Bushy Park, Richmond, where the invasion was planned.

A plaque was unveiled at the site of the office where General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, and key Allied commanders, including General Patton and General, later Field Marshal, Montgomery, met to discuss invasion plans.

A new gate in the park was also dedicated to the memory of the HQ, and a commemorative copse was planted and named after Eisenhower.

Meanwhile, an American sailor who was the youngest serviceman to take part in the landings, was making final preparations for his visit to Europe for the anniversary.

Jackson Hoffler - who was aged 14 on D-Day and lied about his age to join the US Navy - is among a party of veterans who will visit their ports of departure in Britain and go on to Omaha beach to relive the battle.

A three part series on the landings begins in the Independent on Thursday.

The Prime Minister has been told how he can mark the D- Day anniversary by giving Second World War widows a pounds 2,000 one-off payment, without increasing existing government spending.

The idea, put forward in a letter to John Major from Labour MP Alf Morris, highlights government proposals to shave pounds 100m from the overall war pensions budget.

In his letter, Mr Morris said the cut should be reconsidered. 'The total of 51,300 war widows in 1992, the latest year for which figures are available, must mean that today there will be no more than 50,000 still alive.'


D-Day 50, an air show and military tattoo to pay tribute to the 1944 D- Day landings, takes place on 5 June at Bovington Tank Museum, Dorset, when thousands of people are expected to attend. It did not take place over the bank holiday weekend as reported yesterday.