Charity version of famous wartime route march aims to complete 135 miles in five days

A recreation of a legendary wartime endurance challenge has set off from Ilfracombe for the seventh year.

The annual Forces March sees runners and walkers cover the 135 mile route in five days to raise money for The Veterans’ Charity.

This year they were seen off from the start line by Ilfracombe mayor Paul Crabb, town crier Roy Goodwin and Penny Howard-Bates from Sidmouth, whose father led the original march during World War Two.

In 1942 Major John Howard was with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in Devon for training – and marched with them for the 135 miles back to Bulford Camp in Wiltshire.

The legendary route march was born and became a competition among the men of different companies.

Thanks to that fitness, Major Howard’s D Company was later selected to spearhead the entire Allied invasion on D-Day, going on to capture Pegasus Bridge in less than 10 minutes.

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