PRESIDENT of the British Friends of Normandy organisation has backed a call made by Yeovil MP David Laws to have the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Landings next year properly commemorated.

Admiral Sir Desmond Cassidi, who lives near Langport, wrote to the Yeovil Express last week after reading about the Government's apparent lack of formal planning for the anniversary in June of next year.

The Admiral was serving as a young sub-lieutenant on HMS Ramillies on June 6, 1944, when the ship formed part of the bombardment of the Normandy beaches supporting the British landing forces.

"I am a member of the Normandy Veterans Association and also President of the British Friends of Normandy," he said. "This group has been helping to ensure that the British contribution to the liberation of the City of Caen and the surrounding area should be properly represented.

"As well as helping to provide artefacts for the Memorial Museum for Peace in Caen, the British Friends of Normandy has embarked on an exciting scheme to build a British Garden of Remembrance in Caen adjacent to the museum."

Sir Desmond said the planned garden would be the only memorial to embrace all of the services which took part in the Normandy landings.

The garden will be about the size of a rugby pitch and the use of the ground has been granted on a long-term arrangement with the Caen authorities. The centrepiece will be a Fountain of Spirits commemorating all those who lost their lives.

Along the side will stand the emblems of the British and Allied divisions and formations involved, together with a naval and RAF memorial, the latter being a solid granite block from the Mountains of Mourne. There will also be a 'peace garden' to provide an area of quite contemplation.

Sir Desmond added: "We are hoping to officially open the garden on June 5, 2004, to coincide with the 60th anniversary.

"But we have to raise £100,000 this year to match the amount which the City of Caen has provided for the construction of the garden."

Anyone wishing to make a donation towards the project should write to: The British Friends of Normandy, c/o The Military History Officer, Museum Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2LJ.