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Invasion of France is remembered thanks to south Norfolk woman

PUBLISHED: 11:18 25 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:18 25 March 2015

Victoria Bacon has organised an event to mark the Battle of France.

Victoria Bacon has organised an event to mark the Battle of France.

The wife of a Norfolk MP has organised a 75th anniversary event to remember the Allied servicemen who tried to stem German invasion forces overwhelming France near the start of the Second World War.

Victoria Panton Bacon, who is married to South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, has been involved in co-ordinating a commemorative event to mark the Battle of France.

She will be attending the fundraising event, at the RAF club in London, along with her husband. Norfolk author Louis de Bernières, actress Joanna Lumley, Lord Guthrie, Lord Astor and Sir Nicholas Soames are also due to attend.

Last year Mrs Panton Bacon published a collection of the writings of her grandfather, Air Commodore Alastair Panton. Six Weeks of Blenheim Summer – An RAF Officer’s Memoirs of the Battle of France described how as a captain of a Bristol Blenheim Mark IV he, and other airmen, tried to withstand the German onslaught.

And as well as remembering her grandfather and other soldiers and airmen, she will use tomorrow’s anniversary event to remember the thousands of troops, RAF personnel, and civilian refugees who died when the Lancastria was sunk on June 17, 1940 – the single greatest single loss of British armed forces personnel in the war.

Mrs Panton Bacon, who lives near Harleston, said: “I think it is really important to remember battles that ended up in defeat and not just battles that ended with victory. My grandfather and all the other Allies forces were incredibly brave, but they took part in a battle they were never going to win.

“The evening will also remember the sinking of the Lancastria, which is a largely forgotten tragedy, but needs to be remembered because more than 4,000 people drowned.”

Tomorrow’s event will be raising funds for the Royal Air Forces Association and the Blenheim Society.

After the Battle of France Mr Panton was later shot down and captured. Having survived as a prisoner of war he was made an OBE and CBE and he rose through the ranks to become Provost Marshall and head of RAF security before his retirement in 1971.

He died in 2002 and his granddaughter found his memoirs when clearing her late father’s garage in 2012.

Are you organising an event in support of the armed forces? Email anthony.carroll@archant.co.uk

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