The 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings will be commemorated with the lighting of a beacon on the hillside between Largs and Skelmorlie.

The 25 Group Royal Observer Corps Association will mark their contribution to the success of Operation Overlord - the codename for the D-Day landings - on Thursday June 6.

Members will light the site beacon at 9.15pm at the Skelmorlie Secret Bunker.

They will pay tribute to the 796 Observers who sailed with the allied invasion forces taking part in the invasion and liberation of occupied Europe.

There will be food generously sponsored by Largs Fish Works and hot and cold drinks sponsored by Largs and Wemyss Bay Co-op.

A piper from the 1st Largs Boys Brigade will play tunes from the film ‘The Longest Day’, which were originally performed by Bill Millin, who was Lord Lovat's personal piper as the commandos stormed the Normandy beaches.

The site will be open from 7pm, with a D-Day display and some free competitions, including aircraft recognition and target shooting.

The Boys Brigade piper will perform at 9pm with a speech at 9.10pm before the beacon lighting. The event is due to conclude 10.30pm. Any donations will be passed to armed forces charities.

During the event, respects will be paid to two casualties. J. J. B. Bancroft was aboard the vessel Derry Cunily, which was mined and sunk on 24 June 1944, while W. V. Salter who was killed and lost at sea, when the SS Empire Broadsword was sunk by enemy action on 2 July, 1944.

Largs was a secret base for wartime conferences during the Second World War.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: The former Largs Rotary group installed an information board on the esplanade whcih explains the intriguing history of how the D-Day landings were planned in LargsThe former Largs Rotary group installed an information board on the esplanade whcih explains the intriguing history of how the D-Day landings were planned in Largs (Image: Newsquest)

The Battle Conference in June 1943 helped co-ordinate the D-Day landings and the invasion point of the French coast was mapped out.

Largs was the headquarters of the Combined Operations. A conference was held there between June 28, and July 2, 1943, codenamed RATTLE.

The Battle Conference held at HMS Warren (Hollywood Hotel) where there were 20 assorted generals, 11 air marshals and air commodores with eight admirals and brigadiers. 

Vanduara was also used by Combined Operations and instead of being prepared for the onset of the busy tourist season in Easter 1942, the summer holiday residence became HMS Monck, the headquarters of Combined Operations and nerve-centre of many attacks on German-held Europe.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Vanduara in LargsVanduara in Largs (Image: Newsquest)

However, it was not until years after the historic meeting in 1943 that it was revealed that the two great leaders of the Allied Forces also visited the local area to take part in the strategic operations.

In a clandestine operation, and kept top secret to plan the D-Day landings, the prestigious but covert arrival took place.

In the Largs and Millport Weekly News from 1994, it was reported: “Most of the townspeople, heads filled with the latest war talk, were blissfully unaware that one of the most crucial conferences in the history of the world was taking place right under their very noses.

“Some noticed more security around Vanduara and Hollywood Hotels along Greenock Road. Churchill and General Dwight Eisenhower, Allied Supreme Commander, and later 34th President of the United States of America, visited Largs during the conference.

“The two great leaders stayed at St Phillans, which later became the Manor Park Hotel between Largs and Skelmorlie. The high profile conference talks took place at Vanduara with Lord Mountbatten later saying that the Largs gathering was one of the crucial points in the preparation of the D-Day landings."

Another decision taken at Rattle was to set up a Combined Operations Staff college at HMS Warren to train the senior officers of all the Allied nations in amphibious warfare. Over 1,700 officers passed through the course and went on to take part in the D-Day landings and air operations.

* Please note there will be no car parking on site, pedestrian access only so people will have to park with consideration whatever is available. There is a large car parking space down at the seafront next to the Meigle road entrance but it means a 10 minute walk up the hill.