Planning is progressing to hold a commemorative and remembrance visit to Tenby to revive memory of the warm welcome given by the seaside town in 1940 to the Belgian Armed Forces after the disastrous campaign to try and stem the Nazi Blitzkrieg in mainland Europe.

Meeting with members of Tenby Town Council this month, Lt. Col. Le Hardy - acting liaison officer in Britain for the Belgian Veterans Memorial committee, said he had been working in close cooperation with both the Town Council and Pembrokeshire County Council to plan the event.

An outline programme had been devised for the weekend with the main day being Sunday, September 24, and round 40 Veterans and their families arriving on Friday with an introduction to the town.

Saturday will see a visit to the Tenby Museum, where a special Belgian commemorative corner will be unveiled and a bust of the Belgian’s commanding officer in the UK in 1940, General Victor van Strydonck, will be presented by the memorial committee to add to the display.

The group will then travel to Caldey Abbey where they will be welcomed by the Abbot. Some of the monks on the island during the war were Belgian, and hey had been called up.

The party would be coming back to Tenby for 6.30 pm and a presentation on events of 1940s which will be open to public, with the location yet to be finalised.

Sunday will start with a service at 10 am at St Mary’s Church, where the granting of the Freedom of Tenby to the Veterans and their families is hoped to be presented.

There will then be a parade through the town to the War Memorial where a brass black will be unveiled and wreaths laid. This will be based on the town’s Remembrance Service.

A short reception for various dignitaries will follow at The Atlantic Hotel, which served as the headquarters of the Free Belgian Forces in the 1940s.

The Queen’s Dragoon Guards will be sending a small detachment to join the parade which will also feature Royal British Legion standards from the various Pembrokeshire branches.

Tenby is where the Belgian armed forced were able to re-find their mojo and regroup before returning to help liberate Belgium and Europe after D Day, and is a very significant place in the Belgian Armed Forces history.

Cllr Emma Lewis admitted it was not part of Tenby’s history she had previously been aware of. She told her colleagues that she has chatted to some shop keepers who were keen that they should know more about the visit so they may have the chance to decorate, and are keen to participate if the opportunity arises.

Lt. Col. Le Hardy said that the Memorial Committee are getting flags from the Belgian Prime Minister’s office for decorating the town but the quantity and sizes is not known.

The Clerk said that Cllr James Philips (who was unable to attend the meeting), had attended the recent Tenby Events Working Party where the visit had been discussed.

As recently retired from the military himself, and as Veterans Commissioner for Wales, he was keen to be involved and had some ideas, which he may be able to progress through his contacts.

Lt. Col. Le Hardy said initial contact with the Army HQ in Wales had been made some time ago but he would love the opportunity to speak with Cllr Philips.

Belgian standard presentation
A presentation made last year to Tenby Town Council (Pic supplied)

Tenby’s Mayor, Cllr Dai Morgan said he was looking forward to the visit.

“Tenby is a gorgeous town and residents are very lucky,” said Lt. Col. Le Hardy, thanking the Town Council for its efforts in helping facilitate the visit.