D-Day 80th Anniversary, Commemorative Events 13 & 15 June 2024

See below for information about speakers and programme details

Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Steven E. Clay

United States Army

Seven Months to D-Day

Steven E. Clay was commissioned in the US Army in June 1979 as a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation from North Georgia College. After successful completion of the US Army Ranger and Airborne courses, from 1980 through 1990 he held a variety of command and staff assignments from platoon to brigade level with the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, TX, the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, KS, and the ROTC detachment at Texas State University where he earned a Master’s Degree in History. He went on to serve as the Inspector General for the Combined Field Army (ROK/US) in Korea, as the 1st Infantry Division G3 Plans officer, the Chief, REFORGER Planning Group for REFORGER 1992, and Plans and Training officer for the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry. From 1994 to 2002, he was assigned as the Professor of Military Science, Stephen F. Austin State University, and as Executive Officer, Combat Studies Institute, Fort Leavenworth, KS, before returning to Korea as the Deputy Commander, Combat Support Coordination Team #1, Combined Forces Command. On his return from Korea in 2002, he was reassigned to the Combat Studies Institute successively as the Executive Officer, Chief of the Staff Ride Team, and Chief of the Research and Publications Team. He retired at Fort Leavenworth in September 2006 having served over 27 years of active Federal service. In his post-military career, Steve continued to serve the US Army as Team Chief of the Combat Studies Institute’s Contemporary Operations Study Team. As such, he and his team were charged with the mission of researching, documenting, and writing the history of US Army operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002 he has authored or co-authored 15 books for the US Army, many of which detail the operations of US Army organizations in those two conflicts. Moreover, in his private time, he has authored a number of other books and articles, to include Blood and Sacrifice: The History of the 16th Infantry Regiment from the Civil War through the Gulf War and the four-volume reference set, US Army Order of Battle 1919-1941. The latter work was selected for the Society of Military History’s 2012 Distinguished Book Award. He retired in August 2023 after eight years as the Contractor Team Lead for the Combat Studies Institute Staff Ride Team at Fort Leavenworth, KS. In his off-duty time, Steve served for ten years as the President of the 16th Infantry Regiment Association, a job he stepped down from on 1 January 2024. He continues to serve as the Regimental Historian for the 16th Infantry.

GIs in Bridport

London Inn, Sergeant Philip Streczyk with his Section 1 from Walditch, shaking hands with Sydney Travers the landlord. Streczyk was one of the heroes of D-Day.

Christopher Jary


This talk is primarily about people. It tells the story of some remarkable men who fought with 231 Malta Brigade. The 1st Dorsets, 1st Hampshires and 2nd Devons were the first British infantry to land on the Normandy beaches at 0730 on 6th June 1944. It was their third assault landing in eleven months: on 10th July 1943 they had landed on the SE corner of Sicily and on 8th September 1943 they had landed on the top of Italy’s big toe at Pizzo in Calabria. Monty now chose them to spearhead the landing on the west end of Gold Beach near Arromanches.

The plan required the Hampshires on the right to capture Le Hamel and turn west up the cliffs along the coast to take Arromanches while the Dorsets on the left pushed inland to take three gun positions on the high ground behind Arromanches. As reserve battalion, the Devons would then advance south to take the village of Ryes before swinging west and back to the coast to capture the gun battery at Longues-sur-mer. But the weather, the rough sea and some very bad luck disrupted the whole operation. Focusing on the experience of several individual soldiers, this talk will describe how at great cost the Dorsets, Hampshires and Devons overcame all this. By evening they had grabbed and secured a defendable beach-head around Arromanches.

The son of a Hampshire who fought from Normandy to Bremen and a Bomber Command widow, Christopher is a writer. His first book in 1990, Portrait of a Bomber Pilot, was a biography of his mother’s first husband, who flew Wellingtons and Halifaxes. While teaching at the Civil Service College Christopher wrote three more about government. Since 2012 he has written eight books about the Dorset, Royal Hampshire and Devonshire Regiments and has edited four more. In retirement he seems unwittingly to have become a military historian. He has recently given talks for the Kohima Education Trust, at the National Army Museum and on World War Two TV.   The soldiers of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment marching to Le Hamel on 6th June 2024 have each chosen to represent one soldier from Christopher’s 2019 book, D-Day Spearhead Brigade.

Jane Ferentzi-Sheppard, Nick Pitt and Friends

‘16th Infantry in West Dorset

I am a local historian and have been researching the Americans in Dorset for many years. In 2004 I was involved with the 60th D-Day event in Bridport, which was followed in 2005 with the 1940s House Exhibition in the Town Hall.

Suddenly in November 1943 about 1,000 US troops suddenly arrived in the town. Looking at the 16th Infantry in Bridport, where they lived, what they did, who they meet? Memories of some of the GI’s based in the town.

‘16th Infantry in West Dorset

I'm a journalist and author, formerly, and for many years, with The Sunday Times. We came to live in Bridport in 2011.

The talk will be about six notable American soldiers of the First Division, who were stationed in Walditch and West Bay.  I will tell their stories leading to D-Day, on D-Day and thereafter.

West Bay Discovery Centre

West Bay Discovery Centre is a multi-award winning visit centre situated in the old Methodist Chapel in West Bay run by the charity Bridport Area Development Trust.  Our exhibition “West Bay in the War” arises from the local interest in the period leading up to D-Day when West Bay played host to American GIs of the 1st Infantry Division. We always enjoy working with other local organisations to strengthen and enhance what we have to offer and share information.

Robin Stapleton

The Dorsets on D-Day

I was 13 at the time of D-Day and have always retained a general interest in the event. In particular have done and written up research on companies 'E' & 'G' of the 2nd Battalion, American 16th Infantry Regiment stationed in Walditch. This was initially to make the case to have a plaque in Walditch Church.  While doing the research I liaised with Col. Gerald Griffin, Honorary Colonel of the regiment, who kindly gave me a copy of 'Blood & Sacrifice', the history of the regiment by Steven Clay. A plaque was approved and dedicated at a special service in May 2012 with British & American Standards paraded and witnessed by a full church.

The soldiers landing on Omaha Beach, which became known as 'Bloody Omaha,' had a traumatic ordeal. Things started to go awry right from the start and it was looking possible the landing could be thrown back into the sea. However, perhaps through being in the right place at the right time a section of Company 'E' and Company 'G' made a breakthrough which led to the winning of the battle of Omaha. Nevertheless, this was a departure from the original plan which was no longer viable. It required initiative, leadership and teamwork.

At various times I have written articles about these companies, including the June 2024 edition of the 'Bridge'

My interest extends to Operation Neptune, the naval contribution, which was a phenomenal feat of organisation but perhaps not given the coverage it should be given. Portland was one of the ports involved in assembling the invasion fleet. My father had participated in the preparation of crews for tank and other major landing craft from March 1942.


10.00 Christopher Jary from the Keep Museum, Dorchester, ‘The Dorsets: Malta to D-Day’.  A look at the local regiment and their part on the day. 

Local historians Jane Ferentzi-Sheppard, Nick Pitt, Robin Stapleton, Cheryl Ludgate and the West Bay Discovery Centre ‘16th Infantry Regiment in West Dorset’.  A look at the lives of the US soldiers who spent the seven months to D-Day in the area. On Saturday 6th November over 1,000 US troops arrived in Bridport from Sicily. They were the 2 Co of the regiment and were billeted in Bridport, West Bay and Walditch. This is their story. 

There will be plenty of time at lunch to go for a drink and sandwich near the venue in East St.

2.00 After lunch we welcome Steve Clay, Former President of the 16th Infantry Regiment Association and the Regimental Historian from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The 16th Infantry Regiment was part of the 1st Division – ‘The Big Red One’ They were stationed all over Dorset in the seven months leading up to D-Day. Steve’s talk will focus on ‘An American view of the Regiment in West Dorset’. This will be followed by a panel discussion. 

Steve will give a second talk on Saturday 15th June in Bridport Town Hall, 1.30, tickets £5.00 from the Bridport TIC. ‘Omaha Beach: What happened on the day?’ It was the day that many of those stationed here lost their lives. This will be followed by a discussion. Close at 4.00 and then an informal meeting at the 16th Infantry Memorial, Mountfield.