D-Day 80th anniversary: Knit for Victory

29th May 2024

Clackety clack. Knitting needles have been busy.

Two of our cathedrals are marking this historic anniversary of the D-Day landings in wool art.

D-Day 80th Anniversary: Knit for Victory

Ripon Cathedral will host a full-sized knitted tank for the D-Day anniversary. The knitted replica Churchill AVRE tank will be positioned on the cathedral forecourt for June 5 and 6 as the city marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day and the 75th anniversary of the Royal Engineers receiving the Freedom of the City.

The tank was publicly unveiled at a special launch event at The Ripon Inn, with ribbon cutting by Lt Col Perry Bishop of 21 Engineer Regiment.

Created by Ripon Community Poppy Project, it’s made of 1850 woollen squares covering a frame created and constructed by Ripon Men’s Shed and Jennyruth Workshops, which supports adults with learning disabilities. The wood was donated by MKM Building Supplies in Ripon

The D-Day tribute began 18 months ago and has involved an estimated 70,500 hours of planning, knitting, and assembling.

The Ripon ‘Knit and Natter’ group, made up of around 30 women, have collectively knitted 1,860 squares, in ‘olive drab’ wool – the authentic hue of the original Churchill tanks. This knit will envelop the life-size tank structure, which measures 24ft in length, 9ft in width, and 7ft in height.

The D-Day anniversary will be marked by a special concert at Ripon Cathedral, with the knitted tank proudly on display. The concert features Mark Sidwell, Ripon City Band, the Dishforth Military Wives Choir, The Duchy Belles & Charlotte Potter.

Tickets here.

Jack Churchill, Sir Winston Churchill’s great-grandson, will light a beacon as part of the national remembrance celebrations at 9.15pm. Monies collected will be donated to Help for Heroes.

Ripon Cathedral Knit a Tank for 80th Anniversary of D-Day

Stuart Martin MBE, Chairman of the Ripon Community Poppy Project, said:

“The scale of community involvement and support has been overwhelming, with significant donations of materials and time.

“This project truly reflects the unity and respect within our community for those who served during D-Day.”

Southwell Minster has announced it will be the first UK venue to host The Longest Yarn – an 80m 3D depiction of 6th June 1944, in wool art.

The piece has 80 displays, each measuring one metre in length and depicts scenes from this momentous day in history, including the build-up to D-Day in England, the horrors on the Landing Beaches and the bloody inland battles.

Tansy Forster, who came up with the idea, said:

“One of my favourite scenes on display is the depiction of the moment Lord Lovat and Piper Bill Millin crossed Pegasus Bridge, and another is when he plays his pipes on Sword Beach.

“Piper Millin’s son donated his father’s favourite jumper for the project which we unravelled (frogged) and used the wool to knit the figures of Piper Bill – it’s given a real poignancy to these scenes,’ she added.

Created by over 1,000 knitters worldwide, each scene has been selected with guidance from professional historians to be accurate. Some scenes depict actual WW2 veterans engaged in the theatre of war in Normandy on 6th June.

Southwell Minster - Knit for Victory - The Longest Yarn

The Very Revd Nicola Sullivan, Dean of Southwell said:

“We are honoured to be the first place in the UK to host this prestigious exhibition. We look forward to welcoming visitors to Southwell to view these scenes from one of the most important days in European history.

“We are extremely grateful to Big G Logistics who have kindly agreed to collect the exhibition from France and bring it over at a discounted rate. Our thanks also to Brittany Ferries who have waived their transport costs.”

The installation is currently having its premiere in Carentan, France – most famous as the site of the Battle of Carentan during the Battle of Normandy – before it heads across the Channel to Southwell Minster this September.

The exhibition is free of charge. An accompanying book will be on sale, giving more information on the scenes depicted – including a picture from 1944 to show viewers what each scene was based on.

The Longest Yarn is a non-profit Association and self-fund the exhibition – if you would like to make a donation to help with the costs, please click here.

More D-Day anniversary events here.

All our cathedrals will be marking this special occasion with services and events. Do check out your local cathedral to find out more. Bellringers across the country will also be ringing for peace at 6.30pm on Thursday 6 June to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.