York war heroes to be immortalised in stunning stained glass window

Part of the design of the new window by Helen Whittaker
25 Oct 2020 @ 9.44 am
| History

The role of the York Normandy Veterans on D-Day and in the Normandy Campaign is to be commemorated in a new stained glass window.

Designed by the artist Helen Whittaker of Barley Studio, York, the window is to be installed at St Lawrence Parish Church on Lawrence Street. 

A spokesman for St Lawrence Parish Church said: “We are very proud of our relationship with the York Normandy Veterans, and delighted that we will have a lasting memorial to the effort and sacrifice of those from York who strove to liberate Europe and secure our freedom and peace.”

How the D-Day window will look

The window commemorates the D-Day landings and the Normandy Campaign, as seen through the eyes of the last surviving members of the York Normandy Veterans.

They wanted a window to memorialise their comrades, and coordinator for the York Normandy Veterans Nick Beilby has been working with the church to install the window there.

Inspired by their memories

St Lawrence’s Church. Photograph: St Lawrence’s Church website

Helen’s design has been inspired by the memories and recollections of surviving veterans from the York area (so evocatively described in the verbatim play Bomb Happy by Helena Fox), and pays tribute to their inspiring spirit of comradeship, irrespective of rank or position.

The window’s creation is to feature in an upcoming television documentary.

The artwork is divided horizontally into three tiers: land, sea and sky, representing respectively the British Army, the Royal Navy, and the Royal Air Force, working together in the largest Combined Armed Forces operation to date.

At the heart of the design, two men can be seen waiting inside a landing craft at the dramatic moment when the armoured doors open and the ramp is lowered. Their backpacks proudly bear the badge of the City of York Normandy Veterans (YNV).

In the distance, we can see the smoke of battle over the sea and the Normandy shore.

The men are both excited and terrified, but determined; ‘it was all new … like a boy scout adventure’. One of the men turns back, gesturing to his comrade in support and offering strength and trust, so they can face the coming assault together.

Donations welcome

The base of the design features words taken from the hymn Judge Eternal, Throned in Splendour: “and the homestead and the woodlands plead in silence for their peace”.

The window is estimated to cost around £8,000, and the veterans themselves have led a significant amount of fundraising towards its cost, but are hoping for donations towards the cost of the window.

Cheques can be made out to “York Normandy Veterans Window Fund” and sent to St Lawrence Parish Church Hall, Lawrence Street, York, YO10 3WP.