A UNIQUE stained glass window commemorating the D-Day landings installed in the porch of a York church had some very special visitors - three of the Normandy veterans who helped to inspire it.

The window, which depicts two soldiers stepping off a landing craft into the sea on D-Day while a Halifax bomber roars overhead, was installed at the church in time for Remembrance Day in 2020.

But it was only at the end of last month that a wooden plaque to interpret the window was put in place just beneath it.

Now, York Normandy veterans Ken Cooke, Sid Metcalfe and Douglas Petty have paid a visit to the church to see the completed installation for themselves.

"They were delighted with the result, which will ensure that their memory endures," said Nick Beilby of the York Normandy Veterans Association.

"There is somethign now that will be there forever. It makes it clear that war is not a good thing - but at least the memory of what they all contributed is now there for all to see."

The new plaque, made out of oak by master joiners and carpenters Len Plows and Son and lettered in gold leaf, carries the inscription: "The parishioners of St Lawrence stand with York Normandy Veterans in pride and gratitude remembering their fallen and departed comrades."

The plaque also carries the names of the five Normandy veterans who commissioned it: Albert Barritt, Kenneth Cooke, Sidney Metcalfe, Douglas Petty and Kenneth Smith.

The window itself was commissioned by the York Normandy Veterans Association and designed by Helen Whittaker of Barley Studios, in accordance with the veterans' wishes.

Nick said the face of the soldier on the right in the window is based on that of veteran Ken Smith as a young man.

Ken, who has now sadly pased away, was a young private with the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry when he landed on Gold Beach on D-Day.

Interviewed by The Press in 2014, he recalled that morning.

“We had been told to expect heavy machine gun fire and 40 per cent casualties," he said.

"The machine gun fire wasn’t as bad as we’d thought, but the beach was alive with shells and we had to pick our way out carefully because of the thousands of mines."

A young man standing beside Ken in the landing craft as they prepared to to disembark went down. "But we weren’t allowed to stop," Ken told The Press in 2014. "I heard a voice from behind saying 'keep going' and I never found out what happened to him.”

Nick said the window had been designed to capture that moment - and the comradeship of those serving in the army, RAF and Royal Navy. 

Fr Adam Romanis, priest-in-charge at St Lawrence, said the window was 'very personal' and 'very real', and connected the people of York today with those events of long ago - and with other crises taking place in the world, for example in Ukraine.