Screaming Eagles march
Passers-by could be forgiven for doing a double take as more than 35 marchers in Second World War uniforms remembered the men of the 101st Airborne infantry regiment.
They were parading from Littlecote House on Sunday, where the officers of the 101st Airborne 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment were stationed, to Ramsbury and Aldbourne where the American soldiers lived in tented camps or were billeted with local families before they took part in the D-Day landings.
This was the fourth successive year that members of the Screaming Eagles Living History group have undertaken the march and this year they were supported by two wartime US Army Willys Jeeps.
Since the memorial marches were started they have raised thousands of pounds for charities including Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
The proceeds from Sunday’s march, thought to be about £2,500, will be going to the ABF Soldiers’ Charity and towards a plaque to be erected at Littlecote as a permanent memorial to the brave men whose heroism was saluted in the Steven Spielberg film Band of Brothers.
On Sunday about 39 marchers turned out wearing the full battledress of the 506th and carrying backpacks and, in some cases, de-activated rifles for the 12-mile trek between the places where the soldiers of the regiment were stationed in the war.
As well as those in battle dress, either US Army or British, there were others wearing period civilian dress, including a Land Army girl and a woman who pushed a bicycle around the entire route.
Bruce Steggles from Hungerford, who organises the annual marches with Dave Allaway, said that heavy overnight rain on Saturday had left much of the route along tracks and rights of way treacherous, leading to one or two of the marchers losing their footing and ending up sitting in puddles.
He said: “The weather was dry for the march but some of the tracks were horrendous and several of us came a cropper – a couple of us ended up in puddles but no-one was hurt apart from bruised egos.”
Mr Steggles said the number of surviving US Army veterans dwindled each year. “We lose quite a few every year because the youngest now are 89 years old,” he said.