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French villagers protest against British sculptor’s ‘monstrous’ D-Day memorial in Normandy | World News

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Villagers in France are trying to stop the building of a “monstrous” D-Day memorial to the sacrifice of British soldiers.

The proposed construction in Ver-sur-Mer, whose centrepiece is a statue of a British soldier attacking a Normandy beach by British sculptor David Williams-Ellis, was backed earlier this month by Prince Charles.

It should have been opened by Theresa May and Emanuel Macron in January last year, but instead the countries’ leaders are expected to lay the foundation stone on the anniversary of the D-Day landings in June.

Opponents fear the memorial, to be built on a 47-acre site overlooking Gold Beach, will spoil the view of the sea – and the car park and the coachloads of tourists expected to visit will damage the area and its environment.

The proposed construction also features a memorial court and a cloister garden, designed by acclaimed British architect Liam O’Connor, the man behind the Armed Forces Memorial in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Allied troops advance during the D-Day landings.
Image:
Allied troops advance during the D-Day landings.

Gold Beach was the code name for one of the five areas of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944.

An estimated 1,000-1,100 British troops died there.

Protest leader Maxi Krause said the French owe the allies “boundless gratitude,” but simply do not support the plans.

“There is already a British cemetery at Bayeux with an enormous lawn around it where they could have put the pillars that they plan with the names engraved on them,” she told The Times.

Ms Krause, a retired university professor who led a group of 50 protesters on a march around the site, said it is just too big.

“This project is so monstrous. It’s like a supermarket from the point of view of its size. There will be a wall more than seven metres high and 30 metres wide looking on to the sea. That cuts the view over the sea. It’s completely stupid.

Veterans visit the site of the proposed construction. Pic: Normandy Memorial Trust
Image:
Veterans visit the site of the proposed construction. Pic: Normandy Memorial Trust

“We are one of the only villages on the coast that is not spoilt by tourism,” she added.

Normandy Memorial Trust spokesman Michael Traboulsi told Sky News the memorial “will not block the view of the sea” and it believes the majority of local residents are behind the project, a view echoed by Ver-sur-Mer mayor, Phillippe Onillon.

The protesters will discover whether they have been successful next month, when the chairman of a planning inquiry into the project publishes his report.

From there, it needs the approval of the Calvados prefect, the top state official.

Mr Onillon said “In this type of inquiry it is always the opponents who come forward.”

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