LARGS and Millport paid tribute last year to the heroic soldiers who played their part in the Normandy landings 75 years ago as a special new sign was unveiled commemorating the area's special link to the conflict.

Unknown to many outside the town, Largs played a critical role in the planning of D-Day as it was where Winston Churchill and future American President Dwight Eisenhower came to plan the operation.

Now a panel has been installed in front of the building Vanduara, where the legendary leaders met.

Provost Ian Clarkson was in attendance at the unveiling at 11am on Thursday, along with elected members of British Legion Scotland Largs branch.

Provost Clarkson told the assembled masses that he was astonished to learn of Largs' D-Day connection - with the meeting kept secret until the 1990s.

During World War II, the Largs hotels Vanduara and Hollywood were designated shore establishments by the Admiralty.

On 23 June 1943, a conference called Operation Rattle took place at HMS Warren in Hollywood Hotel. It was chaired by Lord Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations, and was attended by the most senior of officers from all services, both British and American. At this conference, the general details of a landing in France were established and action towards this goal set in motion.

The owners found their hotels being renamed HMS Monck and HMS Warren and becoming the secret bases for wartime conferences where the land, sea and air forces of the Allied Nations came together to train, plan and operate as a unified force against the enemy.

In June 1943, a year before D-Day, a conference called Operation Rattle was held at HMS Warren in Largs. Regarded as one of the most crucial conferences in history, this was chaired by the Chief of Combined Operations, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten and was attended by the most senior officers from all services, both British and American. It was here that the plan, codenamed “Operation Overlord” that would result in D-Day was set in motion and the date of 6th June 1944 was chosen - the largest seaborne invasion in history.

This massive operation would become the main turning point of the Second World War, with Lord Mountbatten claiming that the Largs meetings were crucial to the preparations..

In addition to being the nerve centre for the D Day plottings, Largs became a base for American-built Catalina Flying Boats, whose part in the war effort was to patrol the Atlantic searching for German U-Boats.

Millport also hosted a D-Day anniversary service on Friday - attended by local veterans and members of the island legion - and conducted by the cathedral's Reverend Alex Boyd.

One of Largs oldest veterans in Jack Ransom, 99, was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, surviving harsh conditions on the Thai-Burma railway as the D-Day landings took place.

Jack told the News: "I was unaware of the D-Day landings as I was out a POW in South East Asia at the time but it was an incredible thing that these soldiers did for us - and it should never be forgotten."

Stuart Rumble, President of Royal British Legion Scotland Largs branch said: " Everywhere all over UK and France have had a big event to commemorate the D-Day landings. Here in Largs we did our own thing and it was a special event."

Photos: John Keachie/Alan Cawley