D-Day commemorations: Prince Charles says today is ‘probably last chance to pay everlasting respect’ to veterans – latest updates

The Prince of Wales has poignantly said today is “probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect” to the “remarkable” D-Day veterans who are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the landings in northern France. 

Britain’s future King is taking part in a number of events around Normandy on Thursday to mark the anniversary, and of the importance of the services, he said: “I remember the last time we were there, I will never forget the determination that they still exude by being there. Being at the cemeteries and being at the commemorations. 

“They always remember their comrades and their friends and the people they had to leave behind. This country lost countless special people and we owe it to them and their families to go on commemorating this.”

Asked whether this 75th anniversary would be particularly poignant, he added: “It’s probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people who wanted above all to do their duty.”

Earlier, Theresa May addressed the D-Day veterans at a commemoration ceremony in Ver-sur-Mer, and closing her emotionally-charged speech said: “Here in Normandy, the names of those British men and women who lost their lives will forever sit across The Channel from their homeland.  

“We’ll always remember their courage and conviction. And to the veterans that are here today – I want to say the only two words I can: Thank you.”

World War II reenactors stand on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn 

World War II reenactors stand on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn 

Credit:
AP

The British Normandy Memorial, funded by the Normandy Memorial Trust, 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.

A sculpture created by David Williams-Ellis was unveiled marking the beginning of construction for the memorial.

After the memorial inauguration, Mrs May, in one of her final official engagements as Conservative leader, joined veterans and the Prince of Wales at a cathedral service in Bayeux.

The moving service saw veterans and religious leaders deliver speeches to honour those who made the “ultimate sacrifice” during the Second World War.

Meanwhile, many veterans have flock to the town of Arromanches for a series of events.

Activities on Thursday will mark key events in the operation. The day began with a lone piper playing a lament on Port Winston signalling the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold beach.

Veterans will then descend on the town square as part of a parade with Tobias Ellwood, the minister for Defence People and Veterans, and chief of Ministry of Defence general staff Mark Carleton-Smith will be among crowds before a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display.

  • Stay with us all day for live updates. 

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4:34PM

Macron takes to the stage

“June 6, D-Day. A day when history shifted. One of those dates when the destiny of France, Europe and the world was at stake. No need to tell you the year. 6th June was the sunset of Nazism.

“Today, before us, there is an open horizon, clear peace. 75 years ago at the crack of dawn there were squadrons, the greatest fleet ever seem. The sands of the pearl beaches are luminous today but 75 years ago they were red with the blood of men.

“Today, coming together in brotherhood, we pay homage.

“Against all odds they made progress. After hours and hours of endless combat silence followed. 

“On the beaches of Sword, Juno, Omaha everyone was brothers in arms. In the following days, everything had to be defended and it all relied on a thread of courage.

“France knows all that it owes to the soldiers of the landings. On June 6th 3,000 lost their lives. To those heroes thanks to whom we live freely, we realise their glory.

“When the battle of Normandy was over, 21 commanders had given their lives.

“All knew the risk of their mission. All accepted to carry it out.

“Today, on this beach which is at the heart of the epic story, France bows for the lost veterans of D-Day.

4:23PM

President Macron in Colleville-Montgomery

The French leader is at a service by Sword Beach, in Colleville-Montgomery.

Watch it live here.

4:15PM

Macron’s apparent swipe at Trump

The Telegraph’s Henry Samuel, in Colleville-sur-Merhas been analysing Emmanuel Macron’s speech, and the message he sent to US president Donald Trump. He writes:

Emmanuel Macron has urged Donald Trump to stand up for “true” American values by backing multilateral institutions, including the EU, which he said symbolised the spirit of D-Day.

”We must never stop working for the alliance of the free world,” said Mr Macron. “That is what the US did by creating the UN then Nato. That is what the leaders of this continent did by creating the EU.”

This was, he said “the lesson of Colleville-sur-Mer”.

In an apparent swipe at Mr Trump’s unilateralist “America first” policies, Mr Macron said: “American is never as great as when it fights for the freedom of others, when it remains faithful to the universal values of its founding fathers.”

D-Day was won because forces from Britain, Canada, the United States as well as the French resistance came together in the name of freedom, he added.

“We must prove ourselves worthy of this heritage of peace that we have been bequeathed,” said Mr Macron.

He said being worthy of this “promise of Normandy” meant “never forgetting that free peoples can overcome all the challenges when they unite”.

This was at the “heart of the true United States,” he said.

Despite the apparent French barbs, the body language between the two leaders at Colleville was warm.

Taking the podium, Mr Trump hailed the “unbreakable bond” between the US and France as he paid tribute to the D-Day veterans present.

“You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live,” he told the huge crowd who frequently gave the veterans a standing ovation.

“You are the pride of our nation, you are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

“Today American embraces the French people and thanks you for honouring our beloved dead.”

Mr Trump conceded his relationship with Mr Macron has always been smooth but said: “It’s been good sometimes and sometimes it hasn’t been, but right now it’s outstanding. So the relationship that we’ve had together has been really terrific and I appreciate it very much.”

US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands during a meeting at the Prefecture of Caen, Normandy

US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron shake hands this afternoon 

Credit:
 Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

4:05PM

The service draws to a close

The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) complete three flypasts, greeted each time to applause from the crowd below.

Steve Bird, who is there, writes: 

The Conservative MP Tobias Elwood and General the Lord Richard Dannatt, former head of the Army, were among the VIP guests at the commemoration service in Arromanches. An RAF DC-3 Dakota and Spitfire made three raucous fly pasts to rapturous applause from the audience.

The service ended with The Orange Liberation Band parading through the street. The veteran carrying regimental colours, including those of the Gloucestershire Regiment, Royal Signal Association and the Normandy Veterans Association, marched through the street to yet more applause.

A pipe and drum band played Scotland the Brave leading another procession of veterans through the streets ended the afternoon’s events. 

In around 15 minutes, we are expecting a parachute display by UK Red Devils and US Golden Knights.

Planes fly over the service in Arromanches

Planes fly over the service in Arromanches

Credit:
BBC

3:57PM

A charming story from Arromanches

Our Senior Reporter Steve Bird is in Arromanches and has met a 94-year-old veteran with a fascinating story.

William Blount is one of the few D-Day veterans who can say he never ever set foot on the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago.

However, the 94-year-old Royal Marine played a pivotal role in decimating the German war machine targeting British, Canadian and America troops storming the beaches.

For exactly 100 days, the gunner loaded hundreds of shells into the 4.7 calibre gun aboard a Landing Craft Gun (LCG) vessel anchored just off Juno beach.

“I never set foot ashore. Everyday I was putting shells into that gun, then the cordite before firing ashore,” the former gunner said sat in his wheelchair in Arromanches this afternoon.

He struggled to hear the heartfelt thanks from the many people queuing up in the Normandy town to ask for his autograph or wanting to shake him by the hand.

“I’ve suffered from tinnitus ever since because of the sound of that gun firing. It made a lot of noise,” he added.

“But, it was worth it. We fired nearly every day at Caen. Eventually a Forward Observation Officer ashore told us, ‘You just hit the Germa headquarters. Well done. Keep it up.’ So we did.”

For years, Mr Blount kept his experiences aboard that vessel largely to himself. But, after his wife, Hazel, died 13 years ago aged 83, he began to open up about the reality of war to his son Keith, 64, and daughter, Jan, 67.

“I watched two torpedoes go by our 180ft LCG,” he said, posing for another photograph with a well wisher in the Normandy town. “There was nothing we could do. It was horrendous. We just had to watch and wait as it passed by.”

Mr Blount, from near Woking in Surrey, has returned now more than 13 times to the beaches he had only first seen through binoculars.

His daughter, Jan Sturge, said: “Coming here is therapy for him. He never really used to open about it. But, that changed after mum died. He comes here to remember and show respect for the fallen.”

Mr Blount, who plans to live to 100 and return again to Arromanches, added: “It’s great being here. The French are very good towards us veterans. I’ve got to know quite a few of them here. They always say it’s nice to see me here.”

He recalled how when they eventually sailed the LCG back to Portsmouth it needed its gun replacing because it had become worn out during the onslaught.

“We had fired that gun so much at Caen that when we returned to Portsmouth they asked, ‘What the hell have you been doing with it?’ We told them we did a good job with it at targeting the Germans.”

William Blount, centre, flanked by Gary and Jan Sturge

William Blount, centre, flanked by Gary and Jan Sturge

Credit:
Eddie Mulholland 

3:49PM

The service continues with the national anthems

‘God Save the Queen’ rings out, followed by a rousing operatic ‘La Marseillaise’ and a round of applause.

There is now a blessing and a rendition of ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’.

Veterans and their families in Arromanches

Veterans and their families in Arromanches

Credit:
Jane Barlow/PA

3:42PM

They now sing ‘Eternal Father, Strong to Save

The hymn written by William Whiting in 1860 tells of the dangers of the sea, and is often associated with the Navy, and is evoking strong emotions among those gathered in Arromanches. 

The lyrics are:

‘Eternal Father, strong to save, Whose arm does bind the restless wave, Who bids the mighty ocean deep Its own appointed limits keep; O hear us when we cry to Thee  For those in peril on the sea.

‘O Savior, whose almighty word, The winds and waves submissive heard, Who walked upon the foaming deep, And calm amid the rage did sleep; O hear us when we cry to Thee  For those in peril on the sea.

‘O Holy Spirit, who did brood Upon the waters dark and rude, And bid their angry tumult cease, And give for wild confusion peace; O hear us when we cry to Thee  For those in peril on the sea.

‘O Trinity of love and pow’r, Your children shield in danger’s hour; From rock and tempest, fire, and foe, Protect them where-so-e’er they go; Thus, evermore shall rise to Thee Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.’

Veterans singing 'Eternal Father Strong to Save'

Veterans singing ‘Eternal Father Strong to Save’

Credit:
BBC

3:33PM

Watch the service live with The Telegraph

We have a live stream here…

3:29PM

Live from the service

A minute’s silence has taken place, and a bugler has played the last post. Now veterans are laying wreaths at the Arromanches service.

Among the veterans in Arromanches is 93-year-old Harry Billinge, from St Austell in Cornwall.

He is on a final pilgrimage to Normandy to see how thousands of pounds he raised is helping the construction of a national memorial honouring his fallen comrades.

He handed over more than £10,000 to the Normandy Memorial Trust after relentlessly collecting donations in his local high street and Arromanches.

As an 18-year-old Royal Engineer, he landed on Gold Beach at 6.30am on June 6 1944 as part of the first wave of troops.

Mr Billinge said this was his “swansong” and he did not think he would return again, but he was eager to see the first foundation stones of the monument laid on Thursday morning before the service in Arromanches.

Veterans lay wreaths at a sunny Arromanches

Veterans lay wreaths at a sunny Arromanches

Credit:
BBC

3:09PM

Prince Charles chats to veteran who met his own grandfather – George VI

The Prince of Wales has chatted to D-Day veterans in France, including one who met his own grandfather, George VI.

Alfred Hicks, an RAF sergeant during the Second World War, met Charles after the memorial ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery on Thursday.

Mr Hicks was working with the Armed Forces Filming Unit when he was sent to document the Normandy invasion on June 6 1944.

In the lead-up to the landings, the 94-year-old filmed the king inspecting preparations in Portsmouth.

He said: “The prince said I got a chance he never got, I got to meet his grandfather,” and described the king as “a lovely man, a really nice man”.

Prince Charles

Prince Charles

Credit:
REX

Mr Hicks, who landed at Sword Beach on the first day of the campaign, said: “I wanted to get off at the beach and film the others coming in, but they then took us to the front line, and then we had to walk all the way back, it took us 12 hours.”

Charles also met 93-year-old Gerard Robertson, who had an unusual experience when he arrived on Juno Beach aged 18.

He trained with the Durham Light Infantry, but got separated from his colleagues after they landed on the beach on D-Day.

Mr Robertson said: “We got off the boat and I couldn’t find the company, and I never did find them. We ended up going up the beach with the Canadians.

“The following morning, after we found a ditch to stay in overnight, we found another company, the Engineers.”

Mr Robertson ended up sticking with the Engineers for the rest of his military career, and joked: “The only reason I ended up with the Engineers was because I could fix a bicycle chain!”

2:41PM

Arromanches square concert – what is coming up? 

British veterans will descend into the square in Arromanches for a series of informal events hosted by the local authority where there will be music from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

The Band of the RAF Regiment and the Pipes and Drums of 19 Regiment Royal Artillery will provide support during the celebration events involving a Red Arrows flypast and Red Devils parachute display.

Events in Arromanches will conclude with a firework display at 11.30pm.

Here is the rundown of what to expect (all local times): 

  • 3.15pm – Veterans take their seats
  • 3.20pm – Parade Steps Off into the square
  • 3.45pm –  Speech from a VIP veteran
  • 4pm – Arromanches Mayor speech followed by exhortation by a Normandy veteran and a minute’s silence
  • 4.15pm – Wreath laying.
  • 4.25pm – Service ends
  • 4.50pm – Band of the Royal Air Force concert
  • 5pm – The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) complete three flypasts
  • 5.20pm – Parachute display by UK Red Devils and US Golden Knights
  • 5.35pm – Finale by RAF Regiment Band to include Vera Lynn – We’ll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover and Auld Lang Syne
  • 5.50pm – Red Arrows flyby
  • 8pm – Concert in civic square
  • 8.14pm – Low water
  • 11pm – Fireworks display
2:22PM

Ceremony starts at Arromanches square

Crowds of visitors have gathered in the square at Arromanches overlooking the beach for a service of remembrance.

During the commemoration, wreaths will be laid by British veterans.

The veterans were applauded by the crowd as they arrived.

2:09PM

MP calls for giant forest spanning UK to honour D-Day

An MP has called for a giant new forest to be “expanded across the United Kingdom” as a tribute to people who fought and died “for the freedom of this country”.

As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings, Labour’s Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) said MPs should “think profoundly” about the young men and women who fought and lost their lives in the Second World War.

He said a planned new forest in the North of England should be extended across the entire country.

Barry Sheerman

Barry Sheerman

Credit:
Chris McAndrew

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Sheerman said: “As a fitting tribute, can we actually seriously look at something that I am passionate about, and that is the growth of trees to remember people, to remember their contribution?

“There is going to be a new Northern Forest stretching all the way from Hull to Liverpool, 50 million trees.

“Could we expand that across the United Kingdom as a real tribute to those people who fought for us in the war, many of whom died fighting for the freedom of this country?”

Commons Leader Mel Stride replied: “We should seek whatever means we can to pay tribute to those who fought on our behalf in the Second World War.

“You have referenced the planting of trees and I remember, as a young boy actually, Plant A Tree In ’73, I think is what we were urged to do way back then.

“I assume there are forests of these giant trees here today as a consequence of that particular initiative.

“You referred to the great Northern Forest, which I think is an excellent and an imaginative approach.”

Mr Stride advised Mr Sheerman to bring the matter up at environment questions, which he said would be an “excellent opportunity” to bring up the idea with ministers.

1:39PM

Meghan and Harry’s D-Day tribute

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have posted their own tribute to the D-Day veterans. 

On their official Instagram account, they took an excerpt from Prince Harry’s speech to the Chelsea pensioners earlier today. 

It said: “Don’t ever underestimate the joy that you bring to everyone you meet. You represent something really quite special, you are special, and society will always recognise that.

“That is an important part of your legacy….It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community….

“On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy Landing veterans.”

View this post on Instagram

Today The Duke of Sussex visited the Royal Hospital Chelsea for the Founder’s Day Parade, an annual event celebrating the founding of the veterans hospital in 1681 by King Charles II. The Founder’s Day Parade is a day to celebrate ‘The Chelsea Pensioners’, the name for those veterans who live there, and an important reminder of the great debt we owe all whom have served their nation. More than 300 years on from its founding, @royalhospitalchelsea continues to provide exceptional care to soldiers in retirement. Today’s visit also coincides with the 75th anniversary of D-Day. It was especially poignant for The Duke, who served in the British Army for ten years, to visit with and honour six veterans of the Normandy Landing living at the hospital. In his speech today His Royal Highness shared these words with the Chelsea Pensioners: Don’t ever underestimate the joy that you bring to everyone you meet. You represent something really quite special, you are special, and society will always recognise that. That is an important part of your legacy….It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community….On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy Landing veterans. Over 300 British Army Veterans live @royalhospitalchelsea – veterans who fought in the Second World War, and other conflicts including Korea, Malaya, Borneo, Northern Ireland, South Atlantic and the first Gulf War. Her Majesty The Queen, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge and other members of The Royal Family have joined events in the UK and France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are proud to support serving and former members of the Armed Forces. Positive communities and the @royalhospitalchelsea model of care, is critical to help veterans both young and old to maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. Thank you for your service, and for the sacrifices you and your families have made. #DDay75

A post shared by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (@sussexroyal) on Jun 6, 2019 at 5:21am PDT

1:15PM

Next stop – Arromanches

Phoebe Southworth is in Arromanches for The Telegraph. This afternoon it will host a commemorative ceremony overlooking Gold Beach. 

It will feature music from the Central Band of the Royal Air Forces. 

There has been activity in the Normandy commune all day, and as the tide came in, so did an amphibious US military vehicle called The Flying Duckman, which parked up in the harbour with its  Stars and Stripes flag swaying in the the breeze.

The Somme Battlefield Pipe Band also filed through the centre of Arromanches wearing kilts playing traditional Scottish and Irish airs.

Formed in 1989, the band aims to promote the music and history of the Scottish soldiers and their Regiments during their time in Northern France and the Somme Area in 1914/1918 and during the second World War.

D-Day veteran Len Cox, of the 56th Brigade, 2nd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, is one of the poster boys of the D-Day anniversary and his war-time portrait appears on WWII heroes posters around Arromanches.

Visitors walk in a street of Arromanches in Normandy

Visitors walk in a street of Arromanches in Normandy

Credit:
AFP

A fanatical singer and dancer, he gave an impromptu performance of some of his favourite songs to crowds vying for their pictures of him to be signed with his autograph following a military ceremony.

He told The Telegraph: “In the early days I used to jitterbug. Have you ever heard of the move ‘necking the chicken’? It’s when the girl straddles the man with both legs and you bob your heads on either side of each other.

“Nowadays I couldn’t get down on my knees like I used to or I’d probably never get up!”

He added: “Today is important because it’s the 75th anniversary, which is very special. If it hasn’t been for those men then we wouldn’t be standing here today.”

12:53PM

‘My generation saved the world. And I won’t forget any of them’

This is Harry Billinge. He won’t accept it, but he is a D-Day war hero. 

He told BBC Breakfast his story. 

Disclaimer: It might make you cry. 

12:51PM

D-Day veteran weeps as he remembers fallen comrades 

Second World War veteran Jimmy Ockendon wept as he remembered those who lost their lives on D-Day during an emotional memorial service in Portsmouth.

The 97-year-old wiped away tears during the commemoration at the Southsea D-Day Stone, which was attended by thousands of members of the public who paid their respects during a minute’s silence.

Royal British Legion standard bearers along with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and a platoon of Royal Marines Cadets escorted veterans as they marched along the seafront to reach the memorial stone.

The service was conducted by Canon Bob White and featured the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir.

D-Day veteran Jimmy Ockendon wipes away tears during service

D-Day veteran Jimmy Ockendon wipes away tears during service

Credit:
Andrew Matthews/PA

Mr Ockendon said: “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.”

As well as wearing his own service medals, Mr Ockendon, from Portsmouth, donned those of his father, Sergeant James Ockendon, who was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Victoria Cross for his role in the First World War.

Mr Ockendon, who was serving at the time of D-Day but not directly involved in the operation, said: “We were just off France and I heard on the Tannoy what was happening.

“We didn’t worry much in those days, we just got on with the job.”

Jimmy Ockendon lays a wreath at the D-Day stone in Southsea

Jimmy Ockendon lays a wreath at the D-Day stone in Southsea

Credit:
Andrew Matthews/PA

Mr Ockendon, who attended with his wife Joyce, 84, attended the service after earlier this week naming a train The D-Day Story Portsmouth for South Western Railway in recognition of the 75th anniversary.

The service was also attended by Portsmouth South Labour MP Stephen Morgan, whose grandfather James Kaminski landed on Juno Beach as part of the Normandy operation at the age of 17 while serving in the Royal Army Service Corps.

Mr Morgan said: “He lied about his age and joined the Army four months early and his first major operation was landing on the beach.

“One of my biggest regrets is not asking him enough about his story but he was quite reluctant because it was such a traumatic experience.”

He added: “Yesterday we saw Portsmouth can do these events brilliantly at an international level, with Her Majesty the Queen and 15 heads of state in our city, and today, yet again, we have demonstrated we can do these events locally.

“This shows to me Portsmouth is a place for reflection, recollection and remembrance.”

12:43PM

Prince William tribute to those who made ‘ultimate sacrifice’

The Duke of Cambridge this morning paid tribute to the fallen at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, spending time with veterans after pledging to remember “all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice”, writes our Royal Correspondent Hannah Furness

As the Duke bent down on one knee to better hear elderly servicemen, Royal Navy veteran Victor Brunt, 94, joked: “I thought it was us who had to go on bended knee to you.” 

Duke of Cambridge talks to veterans

Duke of Cambridge talks to veterans

Credit:
Peter Byrne/PA

Prince William told him: “Not you guys. It’s not a problem.” John “Jack” Cannane, 95, of the Royal Electrical Engineers, told the Prince that he was under constant fire as he and his team tried to clear the stranded vehicles and landing craft so that the each wave could land.

“It was carnage. But I was a young man, only 20 and at that age you don’t really have any fear. Except of course the shock of seeing the bodies of young men on the beaches or floating in the water.

“But you just keep thinking to yourself that it isn’t going to be you. That’s the only way you survive I think,” he said.

Earlier this morning, a solemn Duke paid tribute to the D-Day fallen by reading aloud the words of his great grandfather King George VI.  His reading said: “Four years ago our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall. Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. 

“This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause. 

“At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nation-wide, perchance a world-wide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.”

Prince William lays a wreath in the pouring rain

Prince William lays a wreath in the pouring rain

Credit:
Anthony Devlin/AFP

The Duke, a former serving Army captain and RAF helicopter pilot, joined more than 20 D-Day veterans, and members of the public, at the service in Heroes’ Square then laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial. 

The service of Remembrance has been organised as part of The Royal British Legion’s commemorative programme for D-Day 75, and will be led by the Honorary Arboretum Chaplains.

Laying a wreath of poppies in the pouring rain, he left a message reading: “In memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them. William.”

12:31PM

Duke of Sussex’s moving speech to Chelsea pensioners 

Prince Harry, who is spending the morning with six D-Day veterans at the Royal Chelsea Hospital has delivered a speech in which he pays tributes both to their service and their everlasting sense of fun, Royal Correspondent Hannah Furness writes.

Sharing his amusement at their “late night cricket in the hallways” and “synchronised buggy drills”, he said: “I stand here before you to not only acknowledge the incredible contribution you have made to this nation but to acknowledge that you, my friends, are also seriously good fun to be around!

“You will always stand out in your scarlet coats and white gloves, but to me, whether I see you at Westminster Abbey, the Chelsea Flower Show, Twickenham Stadium, or the pub, I notice that you are always smiling.

“Don’t ever underestimate the joy that you bring to everyone you meet. You represent something really quite special, you are special, and society will always recognise that. That is an important part of your legacy.

“Here, I see a community that continues to value the importance of teamwork which military service in particular can teach you.

“It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community.”

The Duke of Sussex salutes the Chelsea pensioners

The Duke of Sussex salutes the Chelsea pensioners

Credit:
Aaron Chown/Pa

Marking the significance of today’s anniversary, he said: “On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy Landing veterans.

“To all who are on parade today, I can only say that you are a constant reminder of the great debt we owe those who have served this nation.

“You embody the fitting home that awaits them in the peace and tranquillity of the Royal Hospital, should they want it.

“But more widely, wherever you are, your presence is a symbol of the sacrifices that have been made by all veterans to sustain the freedoms and democracy we value so deeply today.

“Ladies and Gentleman, could I ask that those who are able to, please stand in recognition of our veterans. We stand together and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

“And for you here today, who have served us so greatly and with such honour, I congratulate you on the smartness of your turnout and the steadiness of your bearing. I thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you all the health and happiness you so richly deserve.”

12:27PM

Commemorations continue in Britain

A number of events are continuing in Britain away from the poignancy of northern France. Veterans are still milling around at Bayeux cemetery, paying their respects to those fellow comrades who were killed in battle. 

In London, the six inch guns aboard HMS Belfast were fired on the Thames to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

The six inch guns on board HMS Belfast in London are fired to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings

The six inch guns on board HMS Belfast in London are fired to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings

Credit:
Yui Mok/PA

12:23PM

Prince Charles and Camilla walk amongst graves

The Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall are walking around the cemetery in Bayeux, observing the graves of those who lost their lives during the Second World War. 

Prince Charles and Camilla walk amongst the graves

Prince Charles and Camilla walk amongst the graves

Credit:
BBC

12:12PM

Service at Bayeux cemetery closes with anthems

God Save The Queen is blasted out at the cemetery as D-Day veterans salute the memorial of their fallen comrades. 

This is followed by La Marseillaise. War heroes, immortalised with their gallantry medals glinting in the sunshine, then watch as the procession leaves.

11:58AM

Wreaths being laid at Bayeux cemetery

Theresa May is among those to lay a wreath in honour of those who lost their lives in Normandy. 

The Lord Is My Shepherd is then played out as the Normandy veterans are invited forward to lay wreaths for their fallen comrades. 

Normandy veterans lay their wreaths

Normandy veterans lay their wreaths

Credit:
BBC

11:52AM

The last post and two-minute silence

Under blue skies, distinguished guests and veterans alike stood as the last post was played. 

They then observed a two-minute silence. 

Some D-Day heroes could be seen welling up as they looked out at the sea of graves that belong to their comrades. 

A wreath sits atop a stone memorial reading: “Their name liveth forever more.”

The Last Post was played by the Band and Bugles of The Rifles, followed by a two minutes silence.

D-Day veteran Alan Harris then read: “When you go home, tell of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.”

11:42AM

Theresa May gives reading from Book of Micah

The Prime Minister is on stage giving a reading. 

Wearing a commemorative poppy on her blazer, she addresses the crowd with a section of the Book of Micah.

As she does so, war aircraft pass overhead. 

Joe Shute, who is at the ceremony for The Telegraph, believes the flypast was mistimed: 

“Theresa May’s address to the service was interrupted by what appeared to be a mistimed flypast overhead.

“Before the Prime Minister reached the and of Micah 4:1-5 a spitfire and bomber in D Day black and white livery roared overhead momentarily drowning out the Prime Minister delivering perhaps the final speech of her official term.”

 This is followed by the singing of the hymn Abide With Me before D-Day veteran Ray Lord then read: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.

“Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.”

11:29AM

D-Day veteran, 95, gives his account of landings

War hero Frank Baugh, who trained at HMS Collingwood in Portsmouth, is delivering his speech at the cemetery in Bayeux. 

Our Senior Features Writer Joe Shute is watching the ceremony. Read his account below. 

Veteran Frank Baugh

Veteran Frank Baugh

Credit:
BBC

During the ceremony at Bayeux Royal Navy signalman Frank Baugh addressed the crowd with his own painful memories of D Day.

The 95-year-old was tasked with transporting 200 troops from 2nd Batallion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry from Newhaven to Sword Beach.

On the way they received a direct hit meaning the men had to bail out into four feet of water.

“We were talking moments before but they were cut down by machine guns,” he said.

“They fell into the water floating face down and we couldn’t get them out. That is my abiding memory and I cant forget it.”

11:27AM

Ceremony begins at Bayeux cemetery

The Prince of Wales is among the guests at the cemetery in Bayeux where there are almost 400 unidentified graves. 

The Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister are also attending the cemetery service.

The Royal Yeomanry and its band are providing a Guard of Honour and Royal Salute at the Bayeux Cemetery Service, with the Band of The Rifles in support.

The road alongside the cemetery is Boulevard Fabian Ware, named after the founder of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Bayeux War Cemetery is the largest Commonwealth war cemetery of the Second World War in France.

Both the cemetery and the memorial were designed by Philip Hepworth.

The Latin inscription on the memorial recalls the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 and reads: “We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror’s native land.”

11:20AM

‘Last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people,’ Charles says

Our Royal Correspondent Hannah Furness has been keeping an eye on the royals at the D-Day events. Here are the thoughts of the Prince of Wales.

In an interview with the BBC, the Prince of Wales has spoken of the deep significance of the 75th anniversary D-Day commemorations, saying it is “probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people who wanted above all to do their duty”. 

“I always think of people all around this country whose relations took part in D-Day and will be thinking so much about their grandfathers, fathers or great-grandfathers,” he said. 

“I’ve been lucky enough to know so many of these veterans over my lifetime.”  

After the 70th anniversary, the Prince commissioned a series of 12 portraits of veterans to capture their spirit for centuries to come. 

“I’ve always felt that it’s absolutely key to try and have a record of people who have given so much to this country in one way or another,” he said. 

Prince Charles

Prince Charles

Credit:
REX

“We looked at some of my old regiments, of which I’m colonel-in-chief and very proud to be, and those veterans were sitting for different artists.

“They are very evocative. There were some wonderful figures in that who were chosen. I met them all and I’m thrilled that we have something that will mean their memory is immortalised along with so many others who died with them.”

Of the importance of the Normandy services, the Prince said: “I remember the last time we were there, I will never forget the determination that they still exude by being there. Being at the cemeteries and being at the commemorations. 

“They always remember their comrades and their friends and the people they had to leave behind.

“This country lost countless special people and we owe it to them and their families to go on commemorating this.”

Asked whether this 75th anniversary would be particularly poignant, he added: “It’s probably the last chance to pay everlasting respect to these remarkable people who wanted above all to do their duty.”

11:15AM

Donald Trump’s rousing speech in Normandy

The US president paid tribute to the “greatest Americans that have ever lived” and the “pride of the nation”. 

Midway through his speech, he turned around and applauded the veterans sat behind him at Omaha Beach. 

Donald Trump applauds veterans

Donald Trump applauds veterans

The US veterans, in turn applauded their president. Mr Trump delivered a long address, recalling D-Day through the viewpoint of a number of veterans present.  

11:02AM

‘I’m no hero. Just a plain old guy,’ US veteran says

The Telegraph’s France Correspondent Henry Samuel is at Omaha beach. Here is his take from the sandy beaches. 

Under brilliant blue skies, thousands have gathered for this morning’s tribute to the fallen at Omaha beach. The sun and calm seas could not be more different than the atrocious conditions that faced Allied troops that day.

“It’s pristine now. It was so bad and pitiful that day. Now it’s so beautiful,” said American D-Day veteran Jack Ewald, 94, from Suffolk Virginia, in full of the beach he scaled under German machine gun fire 75 years ago.

Mr Ewald came back in 2010 and he said he wouldn’t have missed the 75th for the world. “It’s given me more energy than I’ve had in a decade,” he said.

Some 4,400 Allied troops on the first day of the landings, more than half at Omaha beach. 

Mr Ewald was in company K, 115th infantry, 29th division.

“I’m no hero, just a plain old guy like most of us,” he said beside his granddaughter Megan Forbes, 34.

“We didn’t do anything special. We all protected each other. We knew we had to do it and we did it. There weren’t no hero business about it.”

10:54AM

Hundreds cheer veterans as they parade to cemetery

Our Senior Features Writer Joe Shute is in Bayeux, where hundreds of people have lined the streets to clap and cheer D-Day veterans as they parade from the cathedral service to the Commonwealth War  Graves cemetery ahead of a memorial there later today. 

Veterans are waiting in Bayeux cemetery for the annual commemorative service to begin.

Veterans at Bayeux cemetery 

Veterans at Bayeux cemetery 

Credit:
Joe Shute

Afterwards the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall as well as Prime Minister Theresa May will mingle with the war heroes.

10:48AM

Prince Harry arrives at Chelsea pensioners parade

The Duke of Sussex has arrived at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London to review the Chelsea pensioners at the annual Founder’s Day Parade.

The parade commemorates King Charles II’s founding of the institution in 1681.

Founder’s Day is also known as Oak Apple Day referring to the oak tree that Charles hid in to avoid being captured by Parliamentary forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.

Harry, a former Army officer, arrived wearing his Blues and Royals frock coat and like all the pensioners and guests wore a sprig of oak leaves in honour of Charles.

10:48AM

Prince William reads excerpt from King George VI speech

At a commemoration service at the National Memorial Arboretum, the Duke of Cambridge delivered the D-Day address made by his great-grandfather King George VI in 1944.

He said: “Four years ago our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall.

“Now once more a supreme test has to be faced.

“This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause.

“At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nationwide, perchance a world-wide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.”

10:45AM

D-Day veteran gives 4-minute interview live…without realising he’s on TV

In a lovely moment during yesterday’s coverage, Simon McCoy was interviewing Eric Chardin in Portsmouth. 

He was just 19 when he landed in Normandy 75 years ago. 

In a poignant interview, he refused to call himself a hero or even “brave”, saying: “you have to admit, one was scared”. 

Wrapping up the interview, McCoy asks Mr Chardin if anybody has recently said thank you to him for his service. 

When the war hero says no, the BBC presenter responds: “Well can I, on behalf of everybody watching, just say thank you.”

Mr Chardin appears taken aback, and replies: “Well, thank you. Thank you for your courtesy.”

McCoy then thanks him again for the interview before beginning to turn to the camera when Mr Chardin interrupts, saying: “Have you finished?”

He continues: “What will you do with it? Take a bit of it?”

McCoy has to tell the veteran: “Well, we’ve just been live. I should have warned you about that.”

Cracking a smile, Mr Chardin says: “Oh, now you tell me!”

Watch the video in full here:

10:31AM

Jeeps driven on beaches on D-Day anniversary 

Our news reporter Phoebe Southworth is in Arromanches where the commemorations continue. 

Here is her take from the scene:

Allan Ede, the president of the Invicta Military-Vehicle Preservation Society (IMPS), drove an army green open-top 1944 Ford Jeep in today’s parade around the beach in Arromanches with his wife Sue.

He told The Telegraph: “We have brought over 1,944 marked vehicles and 500 people to operate them on the ferry from Portsmouth and Dover ports.

“Jeeps like the one I’m driving are off-road patrol and reconnaissance vehicles which were used for running senior officers around. They were essentially the car of the army.”

He added: “It is important to remember the sacrifices that everyone who fought here made.

“In the same way we remember those who died fighting for their country in the First World War, we must also remember those who died in the Second World War.

Jeeps driven on the beach

Jeeps driven on the beach

Credit:
Rex

“We are aware that there are so few veterans left, just a handful now, and they love seeing our vehicles.

“They say things like ‘oh yes, I drove one of those from Normandy to Berlin’.”

Seven local police officers from the gendarmerie in Arromanches directed the Jeeps, tanks and amphibious military vehicles as they snaked their way around the shore, the drivers showcasing them to crowds of onlookers.

Many took the opportunity to snap selfies behind the wheel of unmanned vehicles parked up on the beach.

A harmonica player with a whistle around his neck, flanked by two guitarists and a man with a tambourine, set up camp at the entrance to the harbour.

Crowds of music-lovers quickly formed a semi-circle around the band, called Herbie Blues, and clapped along to their country-style American songs.

9:58AM

Sculpture is tribute to those who made ‘ultimate sacrifice’

Theresa May has paid tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice at an inauguration ceremony of a new British Normandy Memorial in France, 75 years on from D-Day.

She joined French President Emmanuel Macron at the event in Ver-sur-Mer, Normandy, on one of her final official engagements as Conservative leader.

They laid wreaths at the foundation stone for the new memorial, which will list the names of all 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the Normandy campaign in summer 1944 and overlooks Gold Beach, where many of the troops arrived on D-Day.

Speaking at the service, Mrs May said: “It’s incredibly moving to be here today, looking out over the beaches where one of the greatest battles for freedom this world has ever known took place.

“And it is truly humbling to do so with the men who were there that day.”

Theresa May standing in front of the sculpture

Theresa May standing in front of the sculpture

Credit:
PA

She continued: “Standing here as the waves wash quietly on to the shore below us, it is almost impossible to grasp the raw courage it must have taken that day to leap from the landing craft and into the surf despite the fury of battle.

“If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was June 6 1944.”

The Prime Minister also paid tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, saying: “They laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world.”

The sculpture was created by David Williams-Ellis to mark the beginning of construction for the memorial, funded by the Normandy Memorial Trust, which is expected to be completed within a year.

David Woodrow, 95, from Norwich ahead of the Inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site in Ver-sur-Mer

David Woodrow, 95, from Norwich ahead of the Inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site in Ver-sur-Mer

Credit:
PA

Mr Clements was a petty officer in the Royal Navy on board the 900-tonne frigate HMS Mountsea, protecting the convoys approaching the landing beaches on D-Day from Nazi attacks.

He helped drop depth charges at U-boats with “little success”, including targeting one which had earlier sunk an Allied troop ship and was then destroyed by a Canadian vessel.

Mr Clements, from Whitstable, said he was not scared at the time, despite heavy shelling.

Now 98, he said it is “fantastic” that the memorial is being built.

He said: “It should have been done long ago but it’s never too late.”

9:51AM

Prince Charles and Theresa May take their leave

As “World in Union” – the anthem for the Rugby World Cup, which takes place in Japan later this year – plays the guests out, The Prince of Wales and Theresa May leave Bayeux Cathedral. 

Here is Mrs May greeting Prince Charles – perhaps for the last time – outside the building.

Theresa May greeting Prince Charles

Theresa May greeting Prince Charles

Credit:
Chris Jackson

9:46AM

Procession leaves cathedral

Flags of the nations that took part in the struggles are hanging inside Bayeux Cathedral. The procession now leaves the stunning building after a moving service. 

9:44AM

Anthems ring out

For the second time today, God Save The Queen and La Marseillaise are sung at the commemorative events. 

The anthems

The anthems
9:43AM

The blessing

Cardinal Marc Ouellet reads the blessing.

The blessing

The blessing
9:40AM

Bread of Heaven rings out

The second hymn – Bread of Heaven – is sung by the gathered crowd. 

If you want to sing along, here are the words: 

Bread of Heaven

Bread of Heaven
9:37AM

The prayers

The Venerable (Air Vice-Marshal) John R Ellis reads out the first prayer. 

Here is the full transcript: 

The prayers

The prayers
9:35AM

Two-minutes’ silence

The two-minute silence inside the Bayeux Cathedral was, as you’d expect, impeccably observed. 

Apart from the murmur of a baby at the back of the building, there was not a sound inside the cathedral. 

9:32AM

‘They shall not grow old’

The Exhortation

The Exhortation

 The exhortation is read out by the National Chairman of the British Legion Una Cleminson, followed by the last post and a two-minute silence.

9:30AM

Theresa May’s quick outfit change 

Theresa May arrived at Bayeux Cathedral with a new accessory. Wearing the same light jacket as she wore at Ver-sur-Mer, she arrived wearing an elaborate hat. 

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives

Prime Minister Theresa May arrives

Credit:
PA

9:29AM

John R Ellis tells of taking his father to Normandy beaches

In a speech, he asks us to honour the D-Day veterans and those who had to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

He says he could not do their story justice. 

9:24AM

Extract from young person caught up in Nazi occupation

We are now hearing an extract in French from a young person caught up in the Nazi occupation. 

It was a 15-year-old French boy. 

9:18AM

D-Day veteran reads ‘Normandy’

D-Day veteran Kenneth Hay reads from the poem Normandy, by Cyril Crain, who also took part in the Allied invasion.

Mr Hay’s reading began: “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.

Normandy

Normandy

The choir from Hereford Cathedral then perform.

9:17AM

First reading – John 15:12:17

First Reading

First reading
9:06AM

Bayeux service begins

The annual remembrance service has started inside Bayeux Cathedral. 

Although the event takes place every year, this year has added poignancy given it is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

The guests were played in by the Band of the RAF Regiment. Then, welcome speeches were read out by The Venerable (Air Vice-Marshal) John R Ellis, Monseigneur Jean-Claude Boulanger, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon,  and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry are also attending the service of  remembrance in Bayeux. 

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”.

After the welcoming speeches, the guests sang the first hymn.

9:02AM

The Bayeux service explained

In this first town liberated by the allied forces, The Royal British Legion will hold a cathedral service attended by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and the Prime Minister.

32 Engineer Regiment will lead a triservice Guard of Honour at the Bayeux Cathedral service which will have musical Events on Thursday 6 June 8 support from the Band of the RAF Regiment.

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral

Credit:
AFP

The Catholic Notre-Dame de Bayeux Cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.

Its construction began during the Romanesque period and its dedication was celebrated on 14 July 1077.

The famous Bayeux tapestry was regularly displayed there.

9:00AM

Canadian tribute on Juno Beach

Our reporter Steve Bird is in Courseulles-sur-Mer. Here is his report.

In Courseulles-sur-Mer, hundreds of people attended a special ceremony to mark 75 years since Canadian troops became the first wave of allied forces to land on Juno beach 75 years ago. 

Houses and shops lining the streets leading to the seafront were adorned with British, Canadian, American and French flags. American World War II-style jeeps and motorbikes were driven into the ceremony to applause from some passers by.

Bus loads of schoolchildren were also arriving to attend the event. 

8:58AM

Prince Charles and Camilla arrive at Beyeux

The Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall have arrived at Bayeux Cathedral for a service, which is due to start shortly. 

The Prince of Wales is wearing a number of military medals at the D-Day commemorative service.

They include: the Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand, the Canadian Forces decoration, the New Zealand commemorative medal, the long service good conduct medal, and medals marking the Queen’s coronation and jubilees.

Prince Charles arrives

Prince Charles arrives

Credit:
Sky News

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also arrived. 

8:56AM

Summary of memorial unveiling

Our Defence Correspondent Dominic Nicholls watched the ceremony at Ver-sur-Mer. Here is his take on the commemorations. 

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron take a moment to look out to sea in Normandy

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron take a moment to look out to sea in Normandy

Credit:
PA

As a calm tide lapped against what was Gold Beach on D-Day, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron spoke at the inauguration of the Normandy Memorial. 

Theresa May said: “If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was the sixth of June 1944”. 

She paid tribute to “the greatest generation”, saying its “unconquerable spirit shaped our post-war world. 

“They didn’t boast, they didn’t fuss, they served. They did their duty. And they laid down their lives so that we may have a better life and build a better world”. 

Speaking in English, President Macron said “We owe our freedom to this. And whatever it takes we will never surrender. And whatever it takes we will always stand together. Because this is our common destiny”. 

With a nod to Brexit, he continued in French: “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 shared future.”

In a personal message to Theresa May, he said: “Leaders May come and go, but their achievements remain. The force of our friendship will outlast current events. 

“I believe that we can be proud of our actions at the bilateral level, and the causes we have defended at the international level.”

The Normandy Memorial cost £20million and was funded from LIBOR dunes levied against the banking sector. 

8:52AM

Theresa May’s moving speech in full

Here is the text of the speech delivered by Prime Minister Theresa May alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial.

She said: “Thank you President Macron for your support to ensure a lasting monument to the service and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Normandy – something which means so much to our veteran community and to the whole of the British nation.

“It is incredibly moving to be here today, looking out across beaches where one of the greatest battles for freedom this world has ever known took place – and it is truly humbling to do so with the men who were there that day.

“It is an honour for all of us to share this moment with you.

“Standing here, as the waves wash quietly onto the shore, it’s almost impossible to grasp the raw courage that it must have taken that day to leap out from landing craft and into the surf – despite the fury of battle.

“No one could be certain what June 6 would bring. No one would know how this – the most ambitious – amphibious and airborne assault in all of human history, would turn out.

“And, as the sun rose that morning, not one of the troops on the landing craft approaching these shores, not one of the pilots in the skies above, not one of the sailors at sea – knew whether they would still be alive when it set once again.

“If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come – in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world – that day was June 6, 1944.

“More than 156,000 men landed on D-Day – of which 83,000 were from Britain and the Commonwealth.

“Over a quarter million more supported operations from air and sea – while the French Resistance carried out extraordinary acts of bravery behind enemy lines. Many were terribly wounded.

“And many more made the ultimate sacrifice that day and in the fierce fighting that followed, as together our allied nations sought to release Europe from the grip of fascism.

Theresa May delivering her speech

Theresa May delivering her speech

Credit:
Reuters

“Men like Lieutenant Den Brotheridge of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Twenty-eight years old. Husband. Father-to-be. Thought to be the first Allied soldier to be killed in action after leading the charge over Pegasus Bridge.

“Marine Commando Robert Casson of 46 Royal Marine Commando, who was killed on the approach to Juno Beach, three weeks before his brother Private Joseph Casson was also killed in Normandy.

“And twins Robert and Charles Guy, 21, who both served in the RAF and were shot down and buried separately. Their names will now be reunited here.

“These young men belonged to a very special generation, the greatest generation.

“A generation whose unconquerable spirit shaped the post-war world. They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served.

“And they laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world.

“The memorial that will be built here will remind us of this. Of the service and sacrifice of those who fell under British Command in Normandy, of the price paid by French civilians – and of our duty, and our responsibility, to now carry the torch for freedom, for peace and for democracy.

Theresa May closing her speech

Theresa May closing her speech

Credit:
PA

“I want to thank all those involved in this memorial. George Batts and the veterans who have campaigned so hard to make it happen. The people of Ver-sur-Mer, and Phillipe Onillon the town’s mayor.

“Here in Normandy, the names of those British men and women who gave their lives in defence of freedom, will forever sit opposite their homeland across the Channel.

“Here in Normandy, we will always remember their courage, their commitment, their conviction.

“And to our veterans, here in Normandy, I want to say the only words we can: thank you.”

8:47AM

‘Lest we forget,’ says Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is attending commemorative  events in Bayeux, tweeted: “Beautiful morning in Bayeux as we prepare to  remember those who landed on the beaches 75 years ago today to liberate France  and Europe from Nazi occupation.” 

8:34AM

Touching ‘au revoir’ as Macron bids farewell to May

There was a touching moment as Emmanuel Macron handed over to Theresa May between their speeches at Ver-sur-Mer. 

Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron 

Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron 

Credit:
Owen Humphreys/PA

In his speech, the French President said: “Leaders may come and go but their achievements remain. The force of our friendship will outlast current events.”

Talking to Mrs May, he says: “It has been a pleasure to work alongside you,” before the pair embraced.

They didn’t quite burst into a hug – but it was as close as it could be. 

8:26AM

Veterans arrive at Bayeux for remembrance service

Veterans and their families are arriving for a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral.

They will be joined by Prime Minister Theresa May, and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for the commemoration marking 75 years since D-Day.

Joe Shute is there for The Telegraph. He says: 

“Villages surrounding Bayeux have adorned flagpoles with images of fallen soldiers of the Normandy landings.

“The flags of all the Allied countries who led the invasion are fluttering while Flanders poppies – that potent symbol of remembrance – are in bloom along the roadside verges.” 

8:25AM

May and Macron leave service – next up, Bayeux

As Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron leave Ver-sur-Mer, the next big event is at Bayeux Cathedral. Joe Shute reports from France. 

Today the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will join veterans at the Royal British Legion service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and neighbouring cemetery.

They will be attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and the French President Emmanual Macron alongside150 veterans of the Normandy campaign.

On June 7, 1945, Bayeux was the first French city to be liberated following the D Day invasion and the cemetery contains the graves of 4,144 Allied soldiers making it the largest in the region.

The city was liberated by the 50th Northumbrian Division who had landed on Gold Beach. The men of the 50th Northumbrian are remembered on a plaque opposite the city cathedral.

John Cornwall, 92, was a 17-year-old private with the North Gloucesteshire Regiment on the day and among the troops that helped seize the city.

Like many of those to take part in the Normandy Landings he lied about his age in order to sign up.

“When we arrived people were waving flags cheering and handing us drinks,” he recalls. “The city was a big army depot for the Germans but they knew we were coming and mostly left it to us apart from a few snipers.”

Cornwall has numerous comrades buried in Bayeux as well as the surrounding cemeteries. “I have come every year for the last 40 years,” he says. “It is always very emotional.”

8:18AM

Spectators gather on French shores among hundreds of military vehicles

Our news reporter Phoebe Southworth is in Arrmomanches-les-Bains. Here is her report from the morning’s proceedings.

At 6.26am UK time this morning, the exact minute the first British troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in 1944, Lone Piper Major Trevor Macey-Lillie performed to crowds from on top of a concrete section on Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches-les-Bains.

Spectators have gathered on the shores among hundreds of military vehicles bearing Union flags, which will be paraded across the shores and up through the harbour at 9.30am.

Women wearing war-era style dress jived on the beach as live singers entertained the crowds with French and English tracks.

8:13AM

Theresa May greets D-Day veterans

The Prime Minister is now talking to D-Day veterans, shaking hands with them and sharing stories. 

Theresa May meeting the veterans

Theresa May meeting the veterans

Credit:
BBC

8:05AM

Macron and May lay wreath at first stone of memorial

Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron have laid a wreath on the first stone of the Ver-sur-Mer memorial, which sits in front of a new statue of three D-Day soldiers.

Laying of the wreath

Laying of the wreath

Credit:
BBC

La Marseillaise then rings out from a brass band, followed by God Save The Queen.

Veterans then lay their own wreath and salute the statue. 

Seven British D-Day veterans were accompanied by four children, including Sir Winston Churchill’s great-great grandson John Churchill, to lay flowers in front of a sculpture at the memorial depicting three British soldiers storming the beaches.

It was created by David Williams-Ellis to mark the beginning of construction for the memorial, which is expected to be completed within a year.

The ceremony concluded with a piped lament from Trooper Kurtis Rankin of The Royal Dragoon Guards.

8:02AM

Mrs May closes her speech with ‘thank you’ to veterans

The Prime Minister has closed her speech in Ver-sur-Mer. 

She said: “Here in Normandy, the names of those British men and women who lost their lives will forever sit across The Channel from their homeland. 

“We’ll always remember their courage and conviction. 

“And to the veterans that are here today – I want to say the only two words I can: Thank you.”

7:56AM

Theresa May takes the stand

Prime Minister says it is “humbling” to be in France today. 

Says it’s “impossible to imagine the raw courage” it took for D-Day veterans to land on the beaches. 

“Thank you for your service and your sacrifice,” she adds.

Theresa May

Theresa May

Credit:
BBC

Mrs May said the Battle of Normandy is “Something that means so much to the veterans’ community and the British nation.”

She adds: “It’s incredibly moving to be here today, looking out over the beaches where one of the greatest battles for freedom this world has ever known took place.

“And it is truly humbling to do so with the men who were there that day.

“It’s an honour for all of us to share this moment with you.”

Mrs May continued: “Standing here as the waves wash quietly onto the shore below us, it is almost impossible to grasp the raw courage it must have taken that day to leap from the landing craft and into the surf despite the fury of battle…

“If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was June 6, 1944.”

7:54AM

The Normandy Memorial statue

The Normandy Memorial Trust’s statue can be seen behind the speakers at Ver-sur-Mer.

Later, the first stone of the future memorial will be laid, in the presence of veterans, British Prime Minister Theresa May and French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron.

Once fully built the British Normandy Memorial will record the names of those under British command who lost their lives in Normandy between the D-Day landings and 31 August 1944.

Also honoured will be the tens of thousands of French citizens who lost their lives during the period.

7:49AM

Macron takes the stand

The French President is up to talk to the gathered crowd.

Addressing the audience, 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.”

He added: “This is where, 75 years ago, on June 6, 1944, almost 25,000 British soldiers landed in France to free the country from Nazi control.

“This is where young men, many of whom had never set foot on French soil, landed at dawn under German fire, risking their lives while fighting their way up the beach, which was littered with obstacles and mines.”

Macron talking 

Macron talking 

Credit:
BBC

He added: “It is time to remedy the fact that no memorial pays tribute to the United Kingdom’s contribution to the Battle of Normandy.”

He 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.”

President Macron assured Mrs May of his friendship, adding: “Leaders may come and go but their achievements remain.

“The force of our friendship will outlast current events.”

Talking to Theresa May, he says: “It has been a pleasure to work alongside you,” before the pair embrace.

7:48AM

Solider’s reading

Private Liam Dawson is now giving a reading.

His father and uncle were both in the Green Howards, a predecessor of the modern-day Yorkshire Regiment.

The Green Howards were a key regiment during the D-Day invasion and Stanley Hollis of the Green Howards won the only VC of D-Day a short distance from the memorial site. Liam joined the British Army in 2017 at the age of eighteen.

He joined 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment and has recently served overseas in Kabul, Afghanistan.

7:48AM

Veterans watch on as readings are heard

Several D-Day veterans are at Ver-sur-Mer to drink in the commemorations. 

D-Day veterans

D-Day veterans

Credit:
BBC

7:44AM

Ceremony begins

The ceremony has begun in France in Ver-sur-Mer.

On 6 June 1944 the British 50th Infantry Division landed at Ver-sur-Mer as part of Operation Overlord.

The commune of Ver-sur-Mer in Calvados is located along Gold Beach and is currently the town chosen to host the main British monument of the Normandy landings.

7:42AM

Emmanuel Macron arrives

And just like that – here he is. 

Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May

Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May 

Credit:
BBC

7:41AM

Slight delay in proceedings as we wait for Macron

Theresa May is waiting at Ver-sur-Mer for her French counterpart ahead of today’s D-Day commemorations. 

Today is the 75th anniversary of the landings. 

May waits

May waits

Credit:
BBC

The British Prime Minister is ready and waiting in France. 

Emmanuel Macron is slightly behind schedule. 

7:34AM

Theresa May has arrived

The Prime Minister is waiting for Mr Macron at Ver-sur-Mer.

7:12AM

Donald Trump: ‘They did not know if they would grow old’

7:04AM

How the D-Day landings forged the Special Relationship

James Holland writes:

To fully understand just how remarkable the achievement of D-Day and the Normandy campaign that followed was, it is worth casting the net back four years to that darkest hour, June 1940.

Britain and France had declared war against Germany, confident that they had the resources, wealth, and global reach to stop Hitler and the tide of Nazism.

For all Germany’s grandstanding and military drum-beating, Hitler’s Reich lay at the heart of Europe, with little access to the world’s oceans, with neither a decent navy nor merchant navy and therefore lacked the resources needed to conduct a modern war.

Britain’s Royal Navy immediately imposed an economic blockade while France mobilised its vast army of millions. Britain and France, admittedly apprehensive, nonetheless expected to prevail.

By June 1940, such hopes had been shattered. German shock and awe had delivered its Blitzkrieg, mighty France had crumbled and the forces of totalitarianism and nationalism were sweeping across.

Read the full article.

6:55AM

The Telegraph: ‘We must never forget the sacrifice of D-Day’

The invasion force was not only the greatest assembled in history but D-Day was an exceptional feat of arms, logistics and leadership that relied upon meticulous planning, phenomenal levels of secrecy and disinformation and the closest possible co-operation between Britain and her Allies, especially those from across the Atlantic.

This emphasis on collaboration, without which D-Day could not have happened, has been to the fore once again in recent days with the state visit to the UK of Donald Trump. The US president is seen as an iconoclast when it comes to supporting the post-war global order and its multilateral institutions like the UN and Nato.

President of the United States, Donald Trump reads from the 32nd U.S. President President Franklin D. Roosevelt's prayer to the US on stage during the D-Day Commemorations

President of the United States, Donald Trump reads from the 32nd U.S. President President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s prayer to the US on stage during the D-Day Commemorations

Credit:
Getty

Many European leaders will hope his presence at the D-Day commemorations will have modified his protectionist instincts, though the best way they can achieve that is to pay a greater share of the cost of their own defence.

Read the full editorial. 

6:44AM

Lone piper heralds the moment when the invasion began

Today’s commemorations have kicked off with the tradition of a lone piper playing a lament on the remaining Mulberry Harbour in the Normandy town called Port Winston.

Standing atop the structure, Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) performed Highland Laddie at 7.25am local time,  signalling the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold beach.

Crowds gathered on the beach below him and lined the promenade, applauding his performance.

Afterwards his 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.”

Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie of the Scots Royal artillery performs at Mulberry harbour 

Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie of the Scots Royal artillery performs at Mulberry harbour 

Credit:
Getty

More than 300 veterans will be flocking to the town of Arromanches for a series of events on Wednesday to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

6:17AM

‘The morning of freedom’

Just as in the UK, the D-Day anniversary featured on the front pages of many newspapers in France and Germany on Thursday.

Le Figaro: The morning of freedom

Le Figaro: The morning of freedom

Le Parisien: We meet once again

Le Parisien: We meet once again

Aalener Nachrichten: Merkel and the 'gift of the story'

Aalener Nachrichten: Merkel and the ‘gift of the story’

Allgäuer Anzeigeblatt: A beach in June

Allgäuer Anzeigeblatt: A beach in June
5:53AM

Dawn rises on 75th anniversary

D-Day veterans and other people are marking exactly 75 years since the invasion of Normandy that helped change the course of the Second World War.

As the sun rose on  Thursday over Omaha Beach, about 100 people gathered at dawn on the edge of the waters that ran red here on June 6, 1944, the first of five code-named beaches where Allied forces came ashore to push the Nazis out of France.

World War II reenactors stand looking out to sea on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn

World War II reenactors stand looking out to sea on Omaha Beach, in Normandy, France, at dawn

Credit:
AP

American Richard Clapp said it was sobering to admire the “beautiful sunrise” where Allied troops came ashore.

Norwegian Sigrid Flaata drove from Oslo in a 1942 restored jeep to honour the soldiers who died on D-Day.

Belgian Filip Van Hecke called his journey a “small effort to pay homage.”

2:10AM

Today’s events

It’s an early start today as a host of ceremonies and events are due to take place to mark D-Day. 

All times BST.

06:25:  A lone piper from 19th Regiment Royal Artillery will play on the Mulberry Harbour in Arromanches-les-Bains to mark 75 years to the minute since the first British soldier landed and the start  of the amphibious invasion of Gold Beach.

Lone Piper Major Trevor Macey-Lillie 19th Regiment RA (The Scottish Gunners) rehearses at the Mulberry Harbour

Lone Piper Major Trevor Macey-Lillie 19th Regiment RA (The Scottish Gunners) rehearses at the Mulberry Harbour

Credit:
Eddie Mulholland

07:30:  Normandy Memorial inauguration ceremony at Ver-sur-Mer. A statue will be unveiled and the first stone of a memorial will be laid, in the presence of veterans, British Prime Minister Theresa May and her French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. Once complete, the British Normandy Memorial will record the names of those under British command who lost their lives in Normandy between the D-Day landings and August 31 1944. Also honoured will be the tens of thousands of French citizens who lost their lives.

09:00:  Bayeux Cathedral service. The Royal British Legion will hold a cathedral service attended by the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prime Minister in the first town liberated by the allied forces.  A tri-service guard of honour will be led by 32 Engineer Regiment.

11:00: Remembrance ceremony at Bayeux War Cemetery. The Royal Yeomanry and its band will provide a guard of honour and royal salute,  with the Band of the Rifles in support.

13:15:  Veteran parade and service in Arromanches, with music from the Central  Band of the Royal Air Force, the Band of the RAF Regiment and the Pipes and Drums of  19 Regiment Royal Artillery. Events include a Red Arrows flypast and a Red Devils parachute display.

22.30:  Concluding fireworks display.

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