To mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings on 6th June 1944, Friends of the New Forest Airfields (FONFA) has collaborated with Ballard School, New Milton, to create an exhibition commemorating those who served, both in military and civilian roles, during those historic days that led to the freeing of Europe, and the world, from tyranny.

FONFA was formed by a group of aviation enthusiasts, service veterans, historians and authors with an interest in establishing a memorial to the personnel who served in the New Forest and to preserve the aviation heritage of the New Forest for future generations. Their patron, Lady Montagu of Beaulieu, opened the exhibition on Monday. 

Year 9 Ballard pupils have worked incredibly hard in Art, History, and during tutor time to immerse themselves in the local history connected to the D-Day landings and produce the work for the exhibition. Throughout the year, pupils collaborated to research the ways that people and places of the New Forest contributed to the success of Operation Overlord.  

At the time of D-Day in 1944, there were operational airfields in the New Forest, at Ibsley, Hurn, Beaulieu, Holmsley South, Stoney Cross, Winkton, Lymington, Needs Oar Point, Bisterne and Christchurch.  These airfields were crucial to the success of the Normandy invasion and whilst operational, over 24,000 military personnel were stationed there and a further 10,000 local civilians were engaged in various support roles; having a major impact on the local community.    

Pupils were given free choice from a range of topics during their History lessons, including: Beaulieu and the SOE, Exbury House and HMS Mastadon, Lepe Beach on D-Day, Operation Pluto, Advanced Landing Grounds of the New Forest, the Mulberry Harbour, Balmer Lawn Hotel, and the New Forest Marshalling Areas. Pupils could also opt to research topics of their own choosing outside of this list.   

In Art, pupils focussed on the D-Day beach landings, discussing the importance of D-Day and the incredible sacrifice made by Britain, Canada, USA and their Allies on that day.  Pupils looked at the importance of a single aspect of colour in their pictures, researching photographs and working in pencil shading and watercolour, acrylic paint and observational drawing from a D-Day inspired still life.   

One pupil, Nina, who had both her painting and history project displayed, sang ‘We’ll Meet Again’, made famous by Vera Lynn. 

“I was so pleased that Ballard School was able to collaborate with FONFA to put this exhibition together. Our young people learnt so much about the sacrifice so many people made, and the importance of D-Day to the overall outcome of WWII. I am hoping this is the first of many collaborations with FONFA so that our pupils never forget the important role the New Forest area and its residents played in the war effort.” Mr Andrew McCleave, Headmaster. 

View our D-Day 80 Gallery:

D-Day 80 Art Exhibition