Thornton family make their own D-Day landing

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: ON THE ROAD: Simon Taylor and his son Reece, 12, with some of the military vehicles that will be travelling to Normanday ON THE ROAD: Simon Taylor and his son Reece, 12, with some of the military vehicles that will be travelling to Normanday

Many parents indulge their children’s obsessions at some time, but Simon and Rebecca Taylor have probably gone further than most.

When their son Reece developed a fascination with World War Two history, they ended up buying a 1943 American Jeep and adopted a lifestyle which has seen them set sail for Normandy to join in the D-Day celebrations this week.

Not only that, but Rebecca’s parents Derek and Irene Stead were bitten by the same bug and bought a Dodge command car so they could take part too.

The family are now all committed military re-enactors and have teamed up with other enthusiasts around Bradford, who take on the identity of the American 101st Airborne Division.

Their convoy, five Jeeps, the command car and a Dodge weapons carrier, made the sea crossing from Portsmouth yesterday but their landing in France was expected to be rather more sedate than that of the American divisions which faced Hitler’s Atlantic Wall on June 6, 1944.

The Americans faced some of the most fierce German resistance and the Taylors, who live in Thornton, will be camping with authentic military equipment at a site directly behind Utah beach.

Reece became hooked on the topic after watching the Band of Brothers series, which documented the exploits of crack American paratroopers through D-Day and on the campaign through northern Europe.

A trip to a military event at Elvington sealed the family’s fate when they found a Jeep for sale.

It has since been stripped down and restored, with Rebecca’s parents impressed enough to invest in their own slice of military history with the command car built in 1942.

“It has snowballed from there, because you end up buying a military tent to camp in and then a military trailer and everything else that goes with it,” she said.

The vehicles will be travelling to France on trailers, but her parents had even had to swap cars to get one big enough for the towing work.

Observers could be forgiven for assuming the hobby is male dominated, but they’d be wrong. “We are a family group and there are a lot of women involved,” said Rebecca.

So what do they do while the men take on the persona of an airborne division? They’ve set up the 45th field hospital, which has a strong demand for nurses.

A large delegation of military enthusiasts are expected for the commemorations and they will be attending ceremonies as well as visiting museums and historic military landmarks.

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