Tiny knitted soldiers need help to get to France for D-Day anniversary

The woollen army must be transported from the UK to Normandy where they will recreate scenes from the landings 80 years ago

Briton Tansy Forster, who lives near the Normandy landing beaches, rallied volunteers across the world to knit and crochet soldiers
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An army of small woollen soldiers, knitted by volunteers, are to form an 80m-long display to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy – but now help is needed to get them all across the Channel.

Just as the real allied troops assembled in southern England to cross for D-Day, Briton Tansy Forster has mustered 80 knitted and crocheted soldier scenes that need to be transported this spring.

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Scenes inspired by archive photos

Mrs Forster, who lives near the Normandy landing beaches, said she wanted to tell the story of the events in wool, and recruited knitters across the world via Facebook. The scenes are inspired by archive photos.

Called The Longest Yarn, they are now finished, but Mrs Forster is asking for donations of plywood (80mx1m of three-ply) for mountings to set up the scenes, as well as drivers to pick up items in locations around the UK and to bring a 32 cubic-metre van to France in the first week of April.

Anyone who can help should email info@thelongestyarn.com

“I have warehousing in Stevenage and free passage offered by Brittany Ferries.

“Now I’ve got to get all the scenes gathered up in the UK and brought to Stevenage, or direct across to France,” she said.

“We have several sponsors, including a UK firm that has donated boxes for the scenes, and a dairy in Isigny-Sainte-Mère, which has sponsored a panel – we will have dead cows depicted in that because 100,000 were killed during the invasion.

“Historical facts like that are brought out in the work.”

Knitted soldiers depict Normandy Landings scenes

Image: 80 scenes will go on display inspired by archive photos; Two knitters, Diana Peacock and Jenny Shepperd, show off their scene; Credit: Mike Forster

‘I decided I must do something for the anniversary’

Mrs Forster, 69, who retired from a holiday rentals business, said the anniversary is important to her because family members were involved in the war.

This includes her parents, who live next door, who were too young for active service but remember it.

Her interest was also sparked by getting to know a US veteran who used to stay with them to attend commemorations.

She said she used to go to the UK to lay a wreath on a war memorial for her uncle Peter, who was shot down as a pilot.

“I used to notice yarn bombing [street art using knitted pieces] getting bigger every year at the memorial, which started me thinking. I decided I must do something for the anniversary.

“At first, I thought of a topper for my gatepost – but it’s ended up as 80m, representing 80 years and the 80-day Battle of Normandy.”

It will be inaugurated at 11:30 on May 28 at the church of Notre-Dame de Carentan and will be displayed until September before being taken to the UK and, it is hoped, the US.

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