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Capturing D-Day memories

Over the last five years, photographer Stuart Wood has travelled across the country to meet and photograph D-Day veterans, recording their memories and experiences. 

To mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, Stuart’s photographs will be displayed in an exhibition at the National Memorial Arboretum

Speaking before the launch of the exhibition, Stuart told us more about his project and the inspiration behind it. 

“I have always had a personal interest in World War 2 and in particular D-Day,” explains Stuart.

“Whenever I met someone who had been there I always found it amazing that they had personally witnessed one of the most momentous days in human history.

Although Stuart has worked on commissions across the UK and overseas, this project presented a unique challenge.

“I had never actually attempted anything like this project before and literally had no idea at the start if indeed it would actually go anywhere,” he said.

“For as long as I have been a professional photographer, which is now over 20 years, I wanted to do this project but always thought that I would leave it for some time in the future.

“Around five years ago I realised that if I did not do it then, I never would as this day and its subsequent campaign in Normandy is fast moving from memory into history.”

Alongside their portraits, Stuart was also keen to capture each person’s personal experience of D-Day

“So it was time to do something about this idea that had been rattling around my head for many years.”

Charlie Dean

A few days after D-Day we were still near the beaches and we were given a football for some badly needed respite. The game was England v Scotland, about 30 a side and tunics for goalposts.

In pictures: Veterans remember D-Day

Charlie Dean

A few days after D-Day we were still near the beaches and we were given a football for some badly needed respite. The game was England v Scotland, about 30 a side and tunics for goalposts.

In pictures: Veterans remember D-Day

“This generation famously came home and did not talk about their experiences, so for me their personal accounts were vital to accompany their pictures,” he says. 

“My first veteran was Charlie Dean. 

“Charlie told me his story which is very funny, yet unfortunately he died very soon after I photographed him and he sadly never saw his picture. 

“When I presented his picture to his widow and daughter and told them his story, they both looked at each other and told me that over all the years since the war he had never told them that story!” 

Stuart's photographs will be on display at the National Memorial Arboretum from 29 May - 1 September 2019.

“Hopefully I have achieved something nice here,” he adds.

“We should never forget that the freedoms that we enjoy and take for granted were won and defended at such great cost by people like this.”  

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