NORMANDY veterans have marked the end of an era with the laying up of their branch standard at York Minster.

The standard has been placed securely in a brass-mounted glass case on the western wall of the North Transept, just below an existing plaque in memory of those who took part in the D-Day landings and the rest of the Normandy campaign of 1944.

It is positioned just above a case containing the standard of the Dunkirk Veterans Association.

Ken Smith,92, of Wheldrake, who was treasurer and secretary of the former York branch of the Normandy Veterans’ Association, was joined at today’s ceremony by three other remaining branch members, Ken Cooke, 91, Albert Barritt, 91 and George Meredith, 92.

Mr Smith, who landed in Normandy on D-Day - June 6 1944 - when he was just 19, has not been well since a virus laid him low at Christmas, leaving him deaf, but his wife Gloria said he was determined to make it to the service, which was hugely important to him.

“He was not going to miss it for anything,” she said. “I said we’d get him here even if it was in a wheelchair!”

Mr Smith said: “It marks the end of an era. I shall miss the standard, having had the privilege of carrying it at various events, including in Normandy, but it’s an honour to have its final resting place at York Minster.”

He said the placing of the standard in a glass case meant it would be preserved and people should still be able to see it in a hundred years time.

The Reverend Canon Peter Moger, Precentor of York Minster, said: “The branch has had a long association with the Minster, with an annual service being held at the cathedral for many years until recently,” he said.

“It is therefore highly appropriate that the branch standard should have its final resting place here.”

The standard was originally handed over to the Minster Chapter in October 2015 in readiness for its eventual laying-up, and it has been possible to instal it following the completion of the necessary permissions and legalities.

The case was designed by Geoff Brashaw and made by Dave Barnes, a blacksmith at the Yorkshire Farming Museum at Murton, helped by Paul Greene of the Minster’s works department.

The Normandy landings were the largest seaborne invasion in history and have been called the beginning of the end of the war in Europe.

The plaque below the standard in the Minster says: “In memory of all who served in the Normandy campaign. They paved the way for the liberation of Europe.”

During the service, the congregation gave thanks for the ‘courage, devotion to duty and sacrifice of so many’ in securing the nation’s stability and peace.