Meet the Banburyshire sculptor who crafted the British D-day memorial statue

David Williams-Ellis with two of the maquettes used as he designed the D-day statue. Photo: Ken Adlard
David Williams-Ellis with two of the maquettes used as he designed the D-day statue. Photo: Ken Adlard

It has been one of the most emotional and nerve-wracking weeks of David Williams-Ellis' 45-year career as a sculptor thanks to his biggest-ever project.

After two years of hard work in his studio in Over Worton, Oxfordshire, David's impressive statue of three soldiers storming the beach in Normandy was unveiled to the world.

The D-day statue in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, created by David Williams-Ellis. Photo: David Williams-Ellis

The D-day statue in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, created by David Williams-Ellis. Photo: David Williams-Ellis

Veterans and dignitaries came to see Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron inaugurate the 18-foot tall memorial to the 22,442 British men who died 75 years ago in Normandy on Thursday.

David, 60, said: "It was one of the most incredible experiences I've ever had, being involved in such a major project was exciting, emotional, nerve-wracking and really uplifting."

The statue is the first part of Britain's first memorial dedicated to those who died during the biggest amphibious invasion in military history on June 6, 1944.

Eventually the monument in the village of Ver-sur-Mer overlooking Gold Beach, a code-named beach where thousands of British soldiers were killed and fought during D-day, will be part of a larger memorial with the names of all those who died etched into the stone.

Originally from Cumbria, David built the studio in Over Worton, between Great Tew and Duns Tew, four years ago.

He was first asked to get involved five years ago when plans for a memorial were being put together - he jumped at the chance with his father being a veteran of World War Two.

The designs were put together in the Oxfordshire studio before being modelled in clay and cast in bronze at a foundary in Basingstoke, before being shipped to France ahead of the ceremony last week.

Before the unveiling, David had a nervous wait to see how the statue looked from afar as he had only seen the figures up close in his studio, but to his relief, it looks stunning.

"When you make something it comes from nothing, in clay cast in bronze, then it's sitting on the beach and people are crying in front it, it's very moving," the proud sculptor said.

Ten maquettes, which were the studies for the finished sculpture, are on display at the Portland Gallery in London from tomorrow (June 12) to June 22.