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D-Day 75 live: Veterans saluted on Normandy anniversary

UK News | Published:

The Prime Minister earlier joined veterans at an inauguration ceremony for a new D-Day memorial.

D-Day 75th anniversary

Events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day began in Normandy with a lone piper in Port Winston marking the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold beach.

Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron attended the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site in Ver-sur-Mer before the Prime Minister joined the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and other British politicians for a service of remembrance at Bayeux followed by another memorial at the nearby Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.

Hundreds of veterans from the UK have attended an afternoon service in Arromanches.

Across the Channel, the Duke of Cambridge laid a wreath at a service of remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire, and in London, the Duke of Sussex attended Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he met Chelsea Pensioners, including six veterans from the Normandy landings.

4.02pm

The Bletchley Park museum was doing an “as live” Twitter account of German messages decrypted from the Enigma machines on June 6:

3.59pm

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3.59pm

Veterans sang along to a rendition of We’ll Meet Again while linking arms with each other as part of the remembrance service in Arromanches.

The singer shared her microphone with one veteran and they sang a duet for one of the verses.

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They were then treated to a flypast by the RAF historic flight, applauding as they flew overhead.

D-Day 75th anniversary
Veterans gather in Arromanches to commemorate the 75th anniversary (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Veterans at D-Day service
Hundreds of veterans from the UK made the journey to Normandy (Gareth Fuller/PA)

3.56pm

The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister paid their respects in a ceremony in Bayeux.

Prince of Wales lays wreath
(Neil Hall/PA)
Theresa May lays wreath
(Neil Hall/PA)

3.50pm

Among the veterans arriving at the service in Arromanches was 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.

Harry Billinge
Harry Billinge in Arromanches (Gareth Fuller/PA)

3.49pm

Wednesday’s Red Arrows tribute over Portsmouth:

3.47pm

Archive pictures from the Army:

3.41pm

Fascinating background from the Defence Information Organisation:

3.39pm

Tribute from the French president:

3.36pm

Among the veterans arriving for the service in Arromanches was 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.

3.33pm

Thousands of visitors have descended on the small seaside town of Arromanches to mark the 75th anniversary.

Officials have so far been unable to estimate the crowd size but said it is an unprecedented turnout, with many more than attended for the 70th anniversary.

Some 300, largely British, veterans have been drifting into the town throughout the day with many arriving on Wednesday afternoon after attending other services.

A minute’s silence is taking place after an exhortation from a Normandy veteran before a wreath-laying and speeches from dignitaries.

Later, the veterans will be treated to a fly-past from the Red Arrows, renditions of We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover by the RAF Regiment Band before the day culminates in a firework display.

A planned parachute display from the Red Devils has been cancelled.

3.15pm

The Duke of Sussex attended Founder’s Day celebrations at the Royal Hospital Chelsea:

D-Day 75th anniversary
(Heathcliff O’Malley/Daily Telegraph)

3.12pm

Veteran kisses Camilla
The Duchess of Cornwall receives a kiss from veteran Arthur Jones during the Royal British Legion’s service of remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux (Arthur Edwards/The Sun/PA)

3.05pm

US President Donald Trump also paid tribute to the veterans:

2.53pm

Len Williams, 93, met Prime Minister Mrs May as she chatted to veterans.

He was an 18-year-old private with The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on D-Day and came over to Gold Beach a few days after June 6.

Talking about his meeting with Mrs May, he said: “It couldn’t have been more perfect. She said to me ‘you did well’.”

John McOwan, 98, from Peebles in the Scottish Borders, was a sergeant with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers on D-Day. He landed on Sword Beach four days after June 6.

“The Prime Minister said she was very pleased to meet me,” Mr McOwan said. “I said that I admire her very much and she smiled.

“This whole trip has been mind boggling. I shook hands with President Macron in Portsmouth, as well as Sheridan Smith. The service was very emotional. The tears were running down my face because it was so touching.”

2.47pm

Veterans at D-Day memorial
Veterans were emotional at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas (Anthony Devlin/PA)

2.40pm

William and Harry honoured the D-Day veterans:

2.37pm

Theresa May paid her own tribute on Twitter:

2.33pm

2.32pm

Royal Marine Robert Williams, 94, from Chelmsford, gave Prime Minister Theresa May a kiss on the cheek after meeting her in the marquee at Bayeux Cemetery.

Mr Williams was an 18-year-old commando in a landing craft that reached Sword Beach on D-Day.

“We landed ashore and then moved through the land,” he said.

“I went all the the way through to Germany and I didn’t get a scratch. The Lord was watching over me.”

When asked about his meeting with Mrs May, he said: “She came over and said ‘pleased to meet you’.

“She said ‘thank you for what you have done’. I kissed her – why not? It is not everyone that can do that.

“I took her by the arms and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She said ‘ooh, thank you’.”

2.25pm

D-Day veteran
Normandy veteran Leonard Cox takes a seat as veterans start to gather in Arromanches (Gareth Fuller/PA)

2.21pm

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.

Tobias Ellwood, the minister for Defence People and Veterans, has arrived at the service and is greeting veterans.

13.55pm

They fought on the land, the sea and by air – with each of the armed services honoured in various ways today:

D-Day 75th anniversary
Amphibious landing craft head into Arromanches in Normandy (Owen Humphreys/PA)
D-Day 75th anniversary
A Dakota and a Spitfire make a flypast over the cemetery at Bayeux (Jane Barlows/PA)

13.45pm

With the service at the Bayeux cemetery now complete, Charles, Camilla and Mrs May met those who run it. Downing Street also share a video of Mrs May and Emmanuel Macron at the unveiling of the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer.

13.40pm

D-Day 75th anniversary
The Prince of Wales meets veterans at the Royal British Legion’s service of remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux (Chris Jackson/PA)
D-Day 75th anniversary
Charles and Camilla walked through the graves looking at the names of the fallen (Chris Jackson/PA)

13.30pm

A poignant moment as two of the aircraft that supported ground and sea troops in Normandy – a Spitfire and Dakota – fly over the Bayeux War Cemetery.

13.30pm

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official Instagram account SussexRoyal shared photos of the D-Day commemorations.

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

It described former soldier Harry’s visit to see Chelsea pensioners in London as “especially poignant for the duke”.

“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,” the post said.

It added: “Thank you for your service, and for the sacrifices you and your families have made. #DDay75. ”

13.15pm

The Duke of Cambridge was at the National Memorial Arboretum earlier where he met veterans and laid a wreath.

13.05pm

Here’s footage of Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron honouring D-Day veterans at the Normandy American Cemetery.

12.55pm

The RAF have shared an animated graphic of their role in the D-Day landings, with more than 14,000 sorties flown to support the ground and sea troops.

D-Day: British invasion aircraft
(PA Graphics)

12.42pm

At the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, President Trump was joined by French leader Emmanuel Macron for a memorial service.

France D-Day Anniversary
Donald and Melania Trump arrive for a ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer (Thibault Camus/AP)
France D-Day Anniversary
The two presidents share a moment at Colleville-sur-Mer (Ian Langsdon/Pool via AP)
France D-Day Anniversary
(Ian Langsdon/Pool via AP)

12.35pm

Watch footage from the cathedral memorial in Bayeux.

12.35pm

D-Day: British vessels in the invasion fleet
(PA Graphics)

12.30pm

D-Day 75th anniversary
The Duke of Cambridge meets veterans at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, in Staffordshire (Peter Byrne/PA)

12.25pm

The official Twitter account of the royal family has shared some historic documents from 1944, including a letter written by the Queen’s father King George VI to General Eisenhower after the operation, and pictures of British landing craft saluting the King, as well as his meeting with General Montgomery, the ground forces commander-in-chief on June 16 in France.

12.20pm

D-Day 75th anniversary
A D-Day veteran wipes his eyes during the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux (Steve Parsons/PA)

12.15pm

Harry praised the efforts of the D-Day veterans being cared for at the Chelsea Hospital in his address during the ceremony: “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.

D-Day 75th anniversary
Harry salutes during Founder’s Day celebrations at the Royal Hospital Chelsea (Aaron Chown/PA)

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

11.50am

D-Day 75th anniversary
The 6 inch guns on board HMS Belfast in London are fired to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day (Yui Mok/PA)

11.55am

Prime Minister Theresa May gave a reading from the Book of Micah at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery service in Bayeaux before the hymn Abide With Me was sung.

D-Day 75th anniversary
Theresa May giving the reading (Steve Parsons/PA)

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.”

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.”

11.45am

Watch: Footage from veterans who have gathered at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeaux.

11.40am

Veteran Frank Baugh, 95, told a service at Bayeux Cemetery how he was a signalman on a landing craft that took 200 troops from 2nd Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry from Newhaven to Sword beach.

He described how the troops landed in about 4ft of rough water under “heavy machine gun fire” at 7.25am.

“My most abiding memory of that day is seeing our boys we had been talking to the minute before. They got cut down with machine gun fire. They would fall into the water, floating face down and we couldn’t get them out,” Mr Baugh said.

“We couldn’t help them. That is my most abiding memory and I can’t forget it.”

11.35am

Trump D-Day 75 Years
US President Donald Trump during a ceremony at the American Normandy cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer (Alex Brandon/AP)

11.30am

Meanwhile, his brother Prince William has laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial in Staffordshire, along with dignitaries and veterans.

A personal message from the Duke of Cambridge, attached to the poppy wreath, read: “In memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them. William.”

11.20am

Harry was in a boisterous mood joking with the elderly servicemen and women and when he asked a group “who’s your favourite?” gesturing to staff from the Chelsea Hospital’s infirmary they erupted with laughter.

He tried to humour Frank Swift, 90, when the old soldier said he was not well when asked by Harry about his health.

D-Day 75th anniversary
The Duke of Sussex talking to Chelsea Pensioners (Aaron Chown/PA)

“I can’t walk,” said the wheelchair bound former Warrant Officer 2nd Class who served with the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

Harry lightened the mood and made everyone laugh when he said “but you’ve got a comfy chair”.

11.20am

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania gathered with French president Emmanuel Macron for the US commemorations at Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer, where Mr Trump told veterans: “Our debt to you is everlasting”.

“Today we express our undying gratitude. When you were young – these men enlisted their lives in a great crusade – one of the greatest of all times,” he said.

“Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious eternal struggle between good and evil.”

11.18am

D-Day 75th anniversary
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sits with D-Day veteran John Greig, 95, from Dumfries, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeaux (Jane Barlow/PA)

11.15am

Back in London, Prince Harry has been meeting Chelsea Pensioners on their Founders Day, including six veterans of the Normandy landings.

D-Day 75th anniversary
The Duke of Sussex arrives to attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea (Aaron Chown/PA)

11.10am

Normandy veterans have been making their way into the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemtery in Bayeaux.

11am

10.55am

Members of the public in Arromanches have been queuing up to thank D-Day veterans for their service during the Second World War.

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.

This year visitors were coming up to him to shake his hand, with one man saying: “Without you and everything you and the other veterans did, we would not be here.”

D-Day 75th anniversary
Veteran Ron Nolan signs a woman’s shirt in Arromanches (Gareth Fuller/PA)

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.”

He was enjoying the sunshine on the promenade with other veterans including Charles Burton, 94, who came over to Normandy as part of a wave of troops on the second day June 7 with the Royal Ulster Rifles.

Mr Burton said: “It’s nice to take part to be here but it’s very difficult as you remember the others who died.”

10.35am

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.

D-Day 75th anniversary
The Duke of Cambridge speaks at the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, in Staffordshire (Peter Byrne/PA)

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.”

10.35am

Meanwhile, 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.

10.30am

Here are some of the arrivals for the service of remembrance at Bayeux

And footage of Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron at the British memorial inauguration ceremony earlier this morning.

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