New Forest East



Southern Daily Echo – 5 July 2005

For many years, the generosity and hospitality of Edmund and Anne de Rothschild has made Exbury House a centre for reunions and commemorations of Second World War events. As the “stone frigate” HMS Mastodon, Exbury House was central to the planning of D-Day, so it was no surprise that the Exbury Veterans' Association and its tireless organisers Stuart and Marion Loveland were in action once again in the first week of June.

What made this occasion especially memorable was the remarkable staging of an open-air drama based on Nevil Shute's poignant novel Requiem for a Wren – a story concerning the events which took place at Lepe and Exbury in the run-up to the invasion, including the shooting down of the mystery German bomber by ground-fire.

This moving production was not only well acted but involved a level of organisation quite appropriate for the events it depicted! The audience was housed in weatherproof military vehicles in Exbury Gardens and then ferried by skilful coach drivers to Lepe House for scenes to be enacted at the water's edge. The radio microphones worked perfectly and periodic showers only added authenticity to the performances of the Storytellers of the New Forest, whose production it was.

Although not knowing the outcome of this sad story in advance, I found it an emotional experience. One can only guess what it must have meant to those splendid veteran Wrens, landing craft and landing ship personnel, commandos, paras and other fighting men and women present who lived through the real thing.

As a schoolboy, I read about their exploits. As an MP, I regard it as a pleasure and a privilege to meet them on occasions such as this. May they not fade away for many a long year.