D-DAY heroes today wept for their mates gunned down on the beaches of Normandy as the world paid tribute 75 years on from the Allied invasion of France.
Some of the last surviving veterans from Operational Overlord shed heartbroken tears at memorial services on both sides of the English Channel for comrades who fell on June 6, 1944.
50 A veteran shedding a tear at the The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, StaffordshireCredit: Getty Images – Getty
50 Veteran James Ockendon dries his eyes during the service at the D-Day Stone on the Southsea Esplanade in Portsmouth this morningCredit: Solent News
50 (left to right) Philip May, Prime Minister Theresa May, The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales attending the Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance in the Bayeux Cathedral as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings today
50 US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump stand with WWII veterans during a French-US ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, NormandyCredit: AFP or licensors
50 President Trump hugs a US military veteran while French President Emmanuel Macron smiles and applauds the gestureCredit: Reuters
50 D-Day veterans standing proudly at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site in Ver-sur-Mer – Theresa May paid tribute to their generation’s ‘ultimate sacrifice’
50 A lone piper plays on the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches in Normandy, in northern France, as British Army personnel mark the exact moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach 75 years ago
50 Thousands gathered on the beaches of Normandy today to pay their respects – including veterans of the Second World War and military reenactorCredit: PA:Press Association
50 Theresa May said she wanted to say the only words the British can say to our veterans: ‘thank you’Credit: Reuters
50 The Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance is also taking place today in the Bayeux Cathedral
50 D-Day veteran Ernie Corill, 94, gets a kiss from Rachel Green, 36, from BarnsleyCredit: Paul Edwards
50 Visitors flood a street of Arromanches in Normandy for the commemorative events todayCredit: AFP or licensors
50 A veteran weeps at a commemoration service at The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, StaffordshireCredit: Getty Images – Getty
50 A veteran is aided as he lays a poppy wreath at the D-Day Stone at the ceremony in PortsmouthCredit: Solent News
Jimmy Ockendon, 97, wept as he remembered those who lost their lives on D-Day during an emotional memorial service in Portsmouth.
Mr Ockendon told the Press Association: “It was very emotional, the main person I was thinking of was my uncle who went on the Hood, his wife had died just beforehand and he left two young children and my father and mother adopted them.
“I was also thinking of my father.”
In one of her last official engagements as Conservative leader, Theresa May attended an inauguration ceremony in Normandy for a memorial to over 20,000 members of the British armed forces who died there decades ago.
The British Normandy Memorial is being built on a hillside in Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach, one of the key sites for British troops during the Normandy Landings.
Today’s anniversary could well be the last time veterans of the D-Day landings gather in Normandy for a major commemorative event.
Speaking to D-Day veterans today, Mrs May said: “If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and in the world, that day was the 6 June 1944.
“More than 156,000 men landed on D-Day, of which 83,000 were from Britain and the Commonwealth.
“Over a quarter of a million more supported operations from air and sea, while the French Resistance carried out extraordinary acts of bravery from behind enemy lines.
“Many were terribly wounded, and many made the ultimate sacrifice that day, and in the fierce sacrifice that followed, as together our Allied nations sought to release Europe from the grip of fascism.”
50 Donald Trump and his wife Melania visit graves after the Normandy serviceCredit: AFP or licensors
50 French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Theresa May face the new sculpture at the British Normandy MemorialCredit: AP:Associated Press
50 John Connelly, Nev Lees and Bob Jones from Blind Veterans UK during a photocall on board HMS Belfast in London
50 British WWII D-Day veteran Geoffrey Hayward poses amongst tombs after the Royal British Legions commemoration ceremony in BayeuxCredit: Reuters
50 Two D-DAY Veterans embrace on board HMS Belfast on June 6Credit: Getty Images – Getty
50 Veterans John Connelly and Nev Lees on board HMS Belfast in LondonCredit: Getty Images – Getty
50 Veteran Vincent Horton, 93, from Stoke-On-Trent, lays a wreath at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery
50 British army veteran Cedric Wasser looks at the graves of fallen soldiers during a Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in BayeuxCredit: AFP or licensors
50 Veterans marching towards the D-Day Stone before the service in Southsea this morningCredit: Solent News
50 Prince Charles smiles as he meets with veterans at the Bayeux War cemeteryCredit: Getty – Contributor
50 Veteran James Ockendon greets a friend after the service in PortsmouthCredit: Solent News
The Prime Minister read the names of several British troops who were killed during the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.
She said: “These young men belonged to a very special generation, the greatest generation.
“A generation whose incomparable spirit shaped our postwar world.
“They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served.”
Speaking of the names on the new memorial, she added: “We will always remember their courage and convictions.
“To our veterans I want to say the only words we can: thank you.”
Mrs May’s respectful and solemn tribute was echoed by D-Day veteran Kenneth Hay, who read from the poem Normandy by Cyril Crain, who also took part in the Allied invasion.
The poem, read in the Bayeux Cathedral today, begins: “Come and stand in memory of men who fought and died.
“They gave their lives in Normandy, remember them with pride.”
Crain landed at Juno Beach in June 1944, four days before his 21st birthday.
He died in 2014, aged 91.
50 Hero WW2 poet Cyril Crain’s poem Normandy was read aloud during the service at the Bayeux Cathedral today
D-Day veteran Kenneth Hay reads from the poem Normandy, by Cyril Crain, who also took part in the Allied invasion
NORMANDY BY CYRIL CRAINDring the service in Bayeux Cathedral today, veteran Kenneth Hay, who was only 18 when he fought on D-Day, read from the poem Normandy by Cyril Crain, who was also part of the Allied invasion.
Mr Crain landed at Juno Beach in June 1944, four days before his 21st birthday.
He died in 2014, aged 91.
His poem reads:
Come and stand in memory
Of men who fought and died.
They gave their lives in Normandy,
Remember them with pride.
Soldiers, Airman, sailors
Airborne and marines
Who in civvy life were tailors
and men who worked machines.British and Canadian
And men from USA
Forces from the Commonwealth
They all were there that dayTo Juno, Sword and Utah
Beaches of renown
Also Gold and Omaha
That’s where the ramps went down.
The battle raged in Normandy
Many lives were lost
The war must end in victory
And this must be the costWhen my life is over
And I reach the other side
I’ll meet my friends from Normandy
And shake their hands with pride.
US President Donald Trump gives a speech at the ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer
Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron joined the Prime Minister at the inauguration ceremony, where a sculpture created by David Williams-Ellis was unveiled marking the beginning of construction for the memorial.
Expected to be completed within a year, it will record the names of 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy.
President Macron said: “I am honoured to stand alongside Theresa May today to launch construction work for the British memorial at Ver-sur-Mer.
“The British people have long dreamt of this memorial.”
Mr Macron said the monument would also be a symbol of the ties binding France and the UK.
He said: “Nothing will break them. Nothing can ever break ties that have been bound in bloodshed and shared values.
“The debates taking place today cannot affect the strength of our joint history and our shared future.”
Normandy veteran and patron of The Normandy Trust George Batts told the crowd: “They were the soldiers of democracy.
“They were the men of D-Day and to them we owe our freedom.”
After the memorial inauguration, Theresa May joined veterans and the Prince of Wales at a cathedral service in Bayeux.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry are also attending the service of remembrance.
The city, close to the northern French coast, was the first major place to be liberated after the Allied forces invasion.
Following the service, veterans will parade from the cathedral to the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
Dignitaries will be invited to lay memorial wreaths and the last post will be played at the site where more than 4,000 war dead are buried.
Prince Harry makes poppies with war veterans while visiting the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Will I see daylight again? Last D-Day veterans reveal incredible storiesToday’s commemorations could be the last major anniversary of the D-Day landings attended by the heroes who faced Nazi gunfire on the beaches of Normandy in the summer of 1944. Here are some of their astonishing recollections of D-Day.
Ron Tungatt knew he had a crucial role in the engine room of landing vessel 419 in 1944.He needed to keep the engines running so the troops and military hardware on board could be landed quickly and safely on Sword beach.It’s what he’d trained for and he was ready. But, he admits, he was scared too.Today he said: “My last thought before I went to sleep was ‘will I see daylight again?’ I prayed hard.”I feel quite proud, I suppose.”When you got to shore, the thought was always there that you could hit a land mine, or get bombed or shelled.”But we got through it. And I think ours was a lucky ship. We went to the heart of the action and came through with barely a scratch.”
As a 21-year-old, Pixie Jenkins, who was in Women’s Royal Naval Service, helped drive troops and equipment to Newhaven Docks in East Sussex in the the build-up to D-Day and throughout the Normandy landings.Now 100 years old, Pixie said today: “I think the men that went over were wonderful and I hope the younger people today realise how fortunate they are to have people like that.”I think so many youngsters today have forgotten about the men.”They look at them and think ‘they’re old men now’ – to them they’re just old men.”And they’re not, they are wonderful, wonderful men that went over.
Ernest Green, 93, and Robert Barnett, 93, were both on HMS Redpole when it sailed to Juno Beach on June 6 1944.Both men became emotional describing their starkest memory of D-Day – having to watch on as they saw Canadian troops killed in the water before them.They were both manning guns on the ship, protecting the landing craft from air and sea attacks.Mr Green, his voice cracking, said: “To see the chaps who were dead in the water.”I’m sorry, I get emotional when I think of it.”Mr Barnett nodded as he continued: “We couldn’t do anything.”
Sid Barnes, 93, from Norfolk, served in the Royal Army Service Corps and landed on beach by Arromanches on June 6.He returns every year to the town and attends commemoration events.Mr Barnes said: “People are coming up to us to say thank you. But I think ‘thank you for what?'”We just did what we knew we must do. It is nice to know we are valued though.”It’s nice to take part to be here but it’s very difficult as you remember the others who died.”
‘GAVE US OUR FREEDOM’
At the start of the service, a message on behalf of Pope Francis was read by Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
He said D-Day was “decisive in the fight against Nazi barbarism” and paid tribute to those who “joined the Army and gave their lives for freedom and peace”.
The great grandson of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, has also paid tribute to those who took part in the D-Day landings.
“It’s remarkable to think that 75 years ago the heroes that gave us our freedom were coming up these shores,” he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
“With the veterans here today – and it’s wonderful to see so many – it’s wonderful we can honour them and their comrades that didn’t come back.
“They really did give their today so we can have a better tomorrow.”
Prince William attends a D-Day anniversary service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire
Ernest Green, 93, and Robert Barnett, 93, were both on HMS Redpole when it sailed to Juno Beach on June 6 1944.
They were reunited for the first time in 70 years to sail from Portsmouth to Normandy for the anniversary on Wednesday.
Both men became emotional describing their starkest memory of D-Day – having to watch on as they saw Canadian troops killed in the water before them.
They were both manning guns on the ship, protecting the landing craft from air and sea attacks.
Mr Green, his voice cracking, said: “To see the chaps who were dead in the water.
“I’m sorry, I get emotional when I think of it.”
Mr Barnett nodded as he continued: “We couldn’t do anything.
As they parted to go to dinner on Wednesday night, Mr Green kissed Mr Barnett’s wife Martha Barnett on the cheek and told her: “Look after him for me.”LONE PIPER
The day began at 6.26am with the haunting sound of a lone piper playing — marking the moment the first British soldier stormed the beaches of Normandy.
After his bagpipe performance on Arromanches beach, Pipe Major Macey-Lillie said: “That was nerve wracking to do but I feel very proud and it was a privilege to do it.”
Some 300 plus veterans will be flocking to the town of Arromanches for a series of events today to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day today.
Lone piper plays a lament to remember the minute when the D-Day invasion began 75 years ago
This signals the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.
Stood atop the structure, Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) performed Highland Laddie as crowds gathered on the beach below him and lined the promenade, applauding his performance.
The same tune was played by piper Bill Millin, who performed as his comrades were cut down around him on Sword Beach in 1944.
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Across the Channel, a service of remembrance and wreath laying takes place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
In Portsmouth, following President Donald Trump’s visit on Wednesday, a veteran’s parade will take place before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone.
And in London, the Duke of Sussex will attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he will see the Chelsea Pensioners and six veterans from the Normandy Landings.
50 A soldier weeps by the National Memorial Arboretum in StaffordshireCredit: Reuters
50 A veteran cries as he passes the headstones of the Bayeux CemeteryCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd
50 Trump and Macron pose for a snap with a thrilled servicemanCredit: Associated Press
50 Prince Harry reviewing Chelsea Pensioners at the annual Founder’s Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London todayCredit: James Whatling
50 Prince William giving an emotional speech at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, in Staffordshire, for a service to mark the 75th anniversary of the landingsCredit: AFP or licensors
50 D-Day veteran John Quinn meets George Sayer, 6, in Bayeaux
50 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wipes a tear as he delivers a speech during the international ceremony on Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, NormandyCredit: AFP or licensors
50 The British Normandy Memorial unveiled today in Ver-sur-Mer – the amazing statue is the first memorial specifically for British soldiers on the Normandy coast
50 This artist’s impression shows how the memorial will eventually look when it is completed, codifying the names of all 22,442 British troops who died on D-Day and the Battle of Normandy
50 D-Day landing craft veteran, Ted Emmings, aged 94, of The Royal Navy, walks past a villa in Arromanche that has been decorated and is adorned with a photograph of him and other veteransCredit: Getty Images – Getty
50 Veteran Tony Cash talks with pals outside the service of remembrance at Bayeux CathedralCredit: Getty Images – Getty
50 A veteran gives a salute amongst the headstones at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux
50 The Chelsea Pensioners annual Founder’s Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, who are also commemorating D-DayCredit: �2019 Stephen Lock / i-Images
50 Theresa May was visibly emotional as she embraced Macron during the inaugurationCredit: AFP or licensors
50 World War II reenactors stand on Omaha Beach – where the worst Allied losses were suffered on D-Day, made up of mainly American soldiersCredit: Associated Press
50 Len Perry, 95, from London, holds a D-Day 75 wreath while sailing on the MV Boudicca from Portsmouth to Normandy for the commemorationsCredit: PA:Press Association
50 French WWII enthusiasts from the group Overlord 76 plant red roses in the sand in tribute to Americans who died on Utah beach in Sainte-Marie-du-MontCredit: AFP or licensors
50 Pipe Major Macey-Lillie said his performance this morning was ‘nerve wracking’ but ultimately ‘a privilege’Credit: Press Association
50 Patrick Moore from Kent, a veteran of the Royal Engineers, ahead of the Inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site in Ver-sur-Mer
50 Military vehicles line the beach at Arromanches in Normandy for the anniversaryCredit: PA:Press Association
50 Crosses of remembrance placed alongside a Union flag at dawn on the beach at Arromanches in NormandyCredit: PA:Press Association
50 French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May lay a wreath together at the Inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site in Ver-sur-Mer
50 Dawn breaking over Gold Beach in Normandy this morningCredit: Getty Images – Getty
50 US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump make their way to board Air Force One at Shannon Airport in Shannon, Ireland, to fly to Normandy for the commemorationsCredit: AFP or licensors
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