The Suffolk men completing a 60 mile walk across Normandy beaches to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings have sent us their diary of their journey so far. 

The team began their mammoth challenge on Saturday which will see them complete the distance while carrying 50lb backpacks to mark the 80th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.

The team are: Alex, Barney and George Holmes, Steve and Jacob Bailey (Jacob is just 13 years old), Tommy Downing, Steve Windsor, Josh Oliver Rudd, Steve Evans, Mark Gilly, Rich Smith, Steve Heap and Geoff Heywood.

Taking on what's known as the Overlord Challenge, they are raising money for the Royal British Legion and the Veteran’s Hub (Southampton).   

Matt Hurst from Coddenham, who is part of their support team, has sent us the following diary...

East Anglian Daily Times: One of the Overlord Challenge support vehicles en routeOne of the Overlord Challenge support vehicles en route (Image: Matt Hurst)

Saturday June 1
5am Saturday morning the team set off from Beacon Hill services in Suffolk for the beaches of Normandy – a long journey lay ahead but we were very mindful that our own excitement would have been replaced by a very different feeling for our fellow countrymen who headed the same way 80 years ago.
With the ferry crossing completed, we made our way down through France and into the Normandy area. As we got closer, the roads began to fill with 1940s military vehicles – motorbikes, jeeps, half-tracks and trucks – all gathering for the various events being held in Normandy for the D-Day Commemorations.
These vehicles had travelled from all over Europe – The Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, UK – it was quite an amazing sight.
Setting up at a local campsite for the week, again we were surrounded by 1940s militaria – we had the pleasure of being amongst friends from all parts of Europe, all of whom had travelled here with their various pieces of 1940s military history – vehicles, tents and uniforms - paying homage to those who gave so much 80 years ago, and re-creating an unforgettable atmosphere.

East Anglian Daily Times: Utah beachUtah beach (Image: Matt Hurst)East Anglian Daily Times: The end of Day OneThe end of Day One (Image: Matt Hurst)

Day 1 – Sunday June 2
The first day of the walk. We set off after a good breakfast, and travelled over to the first start point - Quineville at the western end of Utah beach.
The weather was in our favour today – 10 degrees and light cloud cover – no burning sunshine or rain to deal with. This looks like it will be a good start to the week ahead.
The team made their way across Utah beach and we finished at Pointe du Hoc, a significant location on D-Day where the US Rangers landed, scaled the Bluffs (cliffs) and took control of major gun emplacements.
We walked around the gun emplacement area, which still to this day bears the scars of war – deep craters where the Allied shelling made impact and destroyed some of the bunkers and gun emplacements.
With the final photo of the day taken, it’s back to the campsite to treat sprains/muscle pain and blisters and providing some much needed refreshment and dinner (and maybe a glass or two of the local wine!).

East Anglian Daily Times: Landing pontoons are still very much in evidence on the beachesLanding pontoons are still very much in evidence on the beaches (Image: Matt Hurst)

Day 2 – Monday June 3
Another glorious start to the day – the weather is being extremely kind to us so far, although the sun might prove to be a challenge today whilst walking the beaches.
Today will see the team tackle Omaha beach, with a visit to the US cemetery along the way – Omaha was the beach that saw the heaviest losses for the US forces, and I think this could be quite an emotional day.
We will be finishing at Port en Bessin this evening, and returning to the campsite once more for a well-earned rest!
Looking forward to providing you all an update tomorrow on our progress…

To support their efforts, visit