D-Day 70th Anniversary


Starting tomorrow a series of events in the United Kingdom and France will commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day and next week will see at least 650 veterans journey to the beaches of Normandy in another commemorative event.

The United Kingdom Ministry of Defence said thousands of people, including Queen Elizabeth and members of the Royal Family, will take part and pay their respects to the allied troops who fought for the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation in the Second World War.

On June 6, 1944, about 4 300 Allied soldiers died in what was the largest ever amphibian invasion ever launched.

Across the two days the events will be supported by more than 1 700 personnel from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force through displays such as a parachute descent and a flotilla of ships crossing the English Channel.

Major General Tim Radford, General Office Commanding Force Troops Command, said: “Every serving regular and reserve member of today’s armed forces recognises the bravery, commitment and sacrifice of all Allied personnel who took part in the decisive actions of D-Day and the Normandy campaign.
“These commemorations are first and foremost about the veterans, remembering the sacrifices that were made and celebrating all that was achieved.”

Events set down for Portsmouth in the United Kingdom on Thursday include a drumhead service and an amphibious landing on Southsea Beach by the Royal Marines launching from HMS Bulwark. A display by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows aerobatic team will precede the departure of Royal Navy and Allied nations’ ships transiting the English Channel to the Normandy coast with HMS Bulwark in the lead.

Events in France’s Normandy region include commemorations at Pegasus Bridge and the Pegasus Bridge Museum to commemorate the landings by 6th Airborne Division troops on the night of June 5/6, 1944; laying of wreaths at the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Memorial and at a statue of Brigadier James Hill, commander of 3rd Parachute Brigade; a midnight vigil will take place to mark the moment gliders landed to capture Pegasus Bridge; a commemorative parachute descent at Ranville, with more than 300 soldiers accompanied by 89-year-old D-Day veteran Jock Hutton, and a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight as well as a memorial service at the Royal Artillery Memorial at La Brèche.

On Friday there will be a UK-French service of remembrance organised by the Royal British Legion at Bayeux Cathedral; a UK-French service of remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux; an international event organised by the French government at Sword Beach, Ouistreham and a parade of veterans, a drumhead service and laying of wreaths at Arromanches-les-Bains.