Fish and chips plays starring role at D-Day anniversary beacon ceremony

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D-Day 80

Fish and chips will be at the heart of a special commemorative beacon lighting ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

The Lamp Lights of Peace will take place at 9.15pm on 6th June and will consist of 800 beacons and hundreds of lamps being lit along the UK coastline including the Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK overseas territories coastlines as well as five beaches in Normandy.

The first beacon will be ignited at the naval base HMNB Portsmouth by royal pageant master Bruno Peek, CVO OBE OPR, coordinator of D-Day 80 Lamp Light of Peace, accompanied by Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF).

As well as commemorating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, this year’s campaign pays homage to the fish and chip industry and the role it played in WW2. As a staple British dish that was one of the few foods in the UK not to be subject to rationing. Not only that, on the frontlines, troops calling “fish” and allies calling “chips” was an effective way to tell whether they were friend or foe. 

Talking about the honour and privilege he feels to be part of the commemorations, NFFF president Andrew Crook also recognises the contributions made by “everyday people” in towns and cities across the UK who he says “courageously risked everything to ensure families had food on the table”.

He adds: “Fish and chips were some of the only foodstuffs not part of rationing sanctions, as Sir Winston Churchill feared it would create widespread discontent. This was very much welcomed and great lengths were made to maintain small vestiges of normality with people’s livelihoods, but it took a toll on fish and chip industry suppliers. Our fisherman would take to the seas trying their best to avoid German submarines and farmers had land mines to contend with but sadly, not always successfully. 

“On the frontline, it also served as a code for troops to understand who was approaching, with “fish” being shouted and a response of “chips” identifying it was an ally on the field.The nation’s favourite dish has such deep-rooted significance in British history, it literally saved lives in the darkest of times but was simultaneously entwined with loss. D-Day 80 is for us all to come together to contemplate what has been overcome and remember the tremendous efforts, resilience and ingenuity.”

The ceremonial torch and the beacon have been specifically created for the occasion and contains sand from the five Normandy beaches the allies landed on.

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