Lone piper plays to mark exact minute first British troops landed

Lone piper plays out on Normandy beach to mark exact minute the first troops landed on D-Day 75 years ago – as President Trump hails the Allied heroes who saved ‘generations yet unborn’

  • Leaders of the Allied nations gather in northern France above the five beaches stormed by 156,000 soldiers 
  • Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery, played a lament this morning on Gold Beach
  • The tune – Highland Laddie – was played at 6.26am, the exact moment British troops started to come ashore
  • Commemorations will continue in the town of Arromanches and in Britain’s National Memorial Arboretum 

A lone piper played a moving lament at sunrise today marking the exact moment 75 years ago British troops landed in Normandy on D-Day.

World leaders including Donald Trump, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau will this morning at the five D-Day beaches: Gold, Utah, Omaha, Juno and Sword and meet veterans who fought for freedom.

Mr Trump, who will visit Omaha this morning with First Lady Melania, tweeted the message: ‘They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn’.

He wrote as he prepared to leave his Irish hotel for France: ‘A big and beautiful day today!’

From dawn on June 6 1944 – known as the Longest Day – 156,000 troops left landing craft and raced on to the sand along the Normandy coast to smash Hitler’s Nazis, turning the Second World War and liberating of Europe within a year. 

At Gold this morning at 6.26am (UK time) Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), performed Highland Laddie on Port Winston – the remains of one of the temporary Mulberry harbour constructed for the Allied landings.  British troops launched themselves on to Sword beach at 6.30am. 

Americans were the first to launch the D-Day assault with simultaneous attacks at Utah and Omaha beaches at 5.30am, while the Canadians landed at Juno at 6.35am. 

It begins another day of commemorations, which will see veterans descending on the town square of Arromanches as part of a parade that will be followed by a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display.

Across the Channel, a service of remembrance and wreath laying takes place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire. 

Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), performed at early morning rendition of Highland Laddie on Port Winston – the remains of one of the temporary Mulberry harbour constructed for the landings

The tribute began at 6.26am today – the exact moment the first British boots touched the beach to confront the German defenders

A new British memorial has been unveiled at a a Franco-British ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day landings Ver-Sur-Mer, Normandy, overlooking Gold beach

 Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the fight to free Europe from Hitler’s tyranny

May and Macron walk in the Normandy sunshine – 75 years ago the brave D-Day soldiers fought their way into France in much poorer conditions

Theresa May arrives in Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach, where the first British attack came 75 years ago today

These are the key moments which helped ensure D-Day became the largest seaborne military invasion in history. 

June 6, 1944 – D-Day

– 01.30-2.00am – Allied combined bombardment and assault fleets arrive and anchor off the French coast.

– 3.30am – Sainte Mere Eglise is liberated by Americans – who hoist the US flag at the town hall – and roads leading up to Utah Beach are closed.

– 4am – Britain’s 9th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, helps destroy weapons at the Merville Battery to protect troops who will land at Sword Beach.

– 4.30am– Allied warships begin bombarding the Normandy coastline. Landing ships and landing craft head for shore.

– 5am – Bombers pound the German shore defences. More than 5,300 tonnes of bombs are dropped.

– 5.30am– American forces begin landing on Omaha Beach and face a devastating enemy onslaught which pins them there until 1100.

– 5.30am – Americans troops begin landing on Utah Beach.

– 6.10am – US 2nd Army Ranger Battalion attacks 100ft high fortified cliff the Pointe du Hoc, defending it for the rest of the day.

– 6.25am – British land at Gold and Sword Beaches.

– 6.35am – Canadians land at Juno Beach.

– 8am – General Eisenhower authorises release of communique announcing the invasion has begun and General Bradley calls for reinforcements.

– 8.45am – Enemy forces cleared from Utah Beach.

-11am – Winston Churchill speaks to the House of Commons about the landings, saying: ‘So far the commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan!’

– 12.30pm – Troops on Omaha Beach begin securing the area. Allied forces begin to bomb the town of Caen with 160 tonnes of bombs dropped.

– 1.30pm – The Nazi’s 21st Panzer Division unleash a counter-attack towards the coast.

– 3pm – The British arrive at Arromanches.

– 5pm– Some of the 3rd Canadian Division, North Nova Scotia Highlanders reach 5km inland. 1st Hussar tanks cross the Caen-Bayeux railway, 15km inland. Canadian Scottish link up with the 50th Division at Creully.

– 6pm – Command post set up on Omaha Beach.

– 7pm Allied patrols at the outskirts of Bayeux.

– 10pm – King George VI address is broadcast. He says it is a ‘fight to win the final victory for the good cause’.

Theresa May was at the inauguration ceremony in France on the 75th anniversary of D-Day in what will be one of her final official engagements as Conservative leader.

The Prime Minister was joined by French President Emmanuel Macron at Ver-Sur-Mer in Normandy at a ceremony marking the creation of the British Normandy Memorial.

Funded by the Normandy Memorial Trust, the monument 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.

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.’

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.’

Chaplain General Clinton Langston opened the ceremony giving thanks to those who served in the campaign from June 5 to August 31 1944.

He said: ‘It is only right and proper that their sacrifice and service is acknowledged and commemorated here as we gather to inaugurate the site of this British Normandy Memorial.’

Normandy veteran and patron of The Normandy Trust George Batts told the crowd: ‘They were the soldiers of democracy.

‘They were the men of D-Day and to them we owe our freedom.’

In Portsmouth, following President Donald Trump’s visit yesterday, a veteran’s parade will take place before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone.

And in London, the Duke of Sussex will attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he will see the Chelsea Pensioners and six veterans from the Normandy Landings.

Paratroopers aged in their 90s jumped from Dakota war planes over Normandy yesterday afternoon as they re-enacted the bravery of soldiers who were central to the decisive landings. 

About 280 took part in the jump over the French coast yesterday, including veterans of landings in World War II. Harry Read, 95, was pictured leaping from the skies and landing in Sannerville in front of crowds of admirers.

Aircraft were pictured taking to the skies in Cambridgeshire, at the Imperial War Museum, before heading to France to commemorate those who died in the fighting on June 6 1944.

Their display brought to life the daring efforts of Allied troops, who secured the first step on the road to defeating the Nazis with the offensive.

Tearful veterans gathered in Portsmouth, Duxford and Normandy as Queen Elizabeth II and US President Donald Trump hailed the bravery of those on the front line.   

British paratroopers jumped after American veterans did the same earlier yesterday, with one making the leap aged 97. Ex 82nd Airborne paratrooper Tom Rice, from San Diego, California, was among some 200 parachutists who filled the Normandy skies of France for the 75th anniversary of the invasion as they leapt from vintage C-47 Dakota planes in what was a moving sight. 

Mr Rice jumped in a tandem into roughly the same area he landed in on D-Day near Carentan, a town among the main targets for the paratroopers. He said: ‘It went perfect, perfect jump. I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again.’   

This morning’s tribute begins another day of commemorations, which will see veterans descending on the town square of Arromanches as part of a parade that will be followed by a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display

Reenactors dressed in military uniform carry a Union flag at dawn on the beach at Arromanches in Normandy to watch the piper this morning

 Arromanches – where these reenactors are pictured this morning – will be a focal point for continuing D-Day commemorations today 

French WWII enthousiast Damien Tracou with a rifle on the shoulders, looks the sun rises today on Utah Beach in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, northwestern France

Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie walking along Gold Beach towards Port Winston five minutes before this morning’s moving tribute

The commemorations yesterday: Veterans leap from planes over Normandy as they recreate the D-Day landings 75 years after they were carried out 

The original leap from the skies over Normandy as part of Operation Overlord, which was the first step on road to victory for the Allies in World War II

Hundreds of paratroopers drop from the sky over France as veterans parachuted onto the Normandy coast to commemorate the D-Day landings 

D-Day veteran Harry Read, 95, comes into land as he joins parachutists, in full Allied uniforms, in a parachute drop onto fields at Sannerville yesterday 

Aircraft prepare to take to the skies this evening at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings yesterday

The Dakota aircraft are pictured yesterday at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, where they took to the skies before dropping parachutists over the French coast in commemoration of the decisive D-Day assault on June 6 1944 

Parachutists jumped from planes over Sanenrville, France, yesterday, in order to commemorate those who gave their lives in the D-Day landings of 1944 

Paratroopers in World War II uniforms walk to their Dakota aircraft prior to take-off from Duxford airfield as they head to Normandy in France to take part in the 75th anniversary of D-Day commemorations yesterday 

D-Day veteran Harry Read makes his final preparations in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, with members of the Army Parachute Display Team before flying to Normandy yesterday where he jumped as part of the 75th D-Day commemorations

Harry Read, 95, comes down to earth after leaping from the Dakota over Normandy, France, yesterday, in a recreation of the daring D-Day landings of June 6 1944

Harry Read lands in Sannerville, France, as crowds gather to watch today’s moving commemoration of the decisive D-Day landings in Normandy yesterday 

Veterans jumped from planes yesterday, with this parachutist flying the Union flag as ex-servicemen aged in their 90s were among those to recreate the D-Day landings  

Parachutists fall from the skies over Sannerville, France, as demonstrators and veterans alike recreated the heroic June 6 offensive of 1944 at Normandy yesterday

Harry Read is pictured hugging his son, John, and his daughter, Margaret Ord, after the D-Day veteran jumped from a plane over Normandy to commemorate Operation Overlord yesterday 

Veteran Harry Read, 95, (left) and Jock Hutton, 94, are pictured after completing their tandem parachute jump with the Red Devils over Sannerville, France, yesterday

Paratroopers from the World War II demonstration team are pictured preparing to perform the drop over Normandy in France yesterday to commemorate the decisive D-Day landings, which were decisive in securing victory for the Allies 

A German army officer (right) greets US veterans including Pete Shaw (standing) after yesterday’s commemorative ceremony in Carentan, Normandy

US veteran Edward Burke is greeted by people after the ‘Carre de Choux’ commerative ceremony in Carentan, Normandy, yesterday as paratroopers dropped from the skies to honour the bravery of those who jumped on D-Day 

US veteran Pete Shaw is greeted at D-Day commemorations in Normandy, north-western France, today, where the 1944 landings were recreated in a demonstration yesterday


Mr Rice, from San Diego, California, was among some 200 parachutists who filled the Normandy skies of France today

Yesterday, the only surviving member of the unit behind the daring Pegasus Bridge operation which paved the way for the D-Day landings yesterday paid an emotional tribute to his fallen comrades.

Reg Charles, 96, is the last surviving member of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry which helped to secure two key bridges in Normandy, just hours before the Allied beach assault on June 6, 1944.

Some 18 men died in the raid codenamed Operation Deadstick, which aimed to land six Horsa gliders near two small bridges over the River Orne and Caen Canal in northern France, capturing them from the Germans. 

Mr Charles, who lives in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, arrived a few days after the glider invasion itself, but is the last surviving member of the unit. Today, he proudly saluted during a ceremony at the Pegasus Bridge Museum. 

British D-Day veteran Reg Charles, 96, salutes during a memorial ceremony at the Pegasus Bridge Museum in Caen yesterday 

Mr Charles, the last surviving member of the glider assault unit on Pegasus Bridge, is embraced by singer Emma Brown yesterday 

He is the last surviving member of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry which helped to secure the bridges yesterday 

Troops cross Pegasus Bridge in northern France in 1944 following the raid which was codenamed Operation Deadstick

The gliders crash-landed just yards from the bridge at Benouville, now known as Pegasus Bridge, early on D-Day in June 1944

The last surviving officer to have actually served in the operation – which has been hailed as ‘the single most important ten minutes of the war’ – was Colonel David Wood, who died in 2009 aged 85.

Pegasus Bridge: Crucial raid by six gliders in the hours before D-Day

The objective of the raid codenamed Operation Deadstick was to land six Horsa gliders near two small bridges over the River Orne and Caen Canal, capturing them from the Germans.

Holding them would stop German tanks reaching the beaches on France’s Normandy coast where Allied troops would land the next morning.

Some 380 British soldiers faced the Nazis’ 21st Panzer Division, which had 12,350 men in the area, 127 tanks and 40 self-propelled guns.

At 12.16am on D-Day the gliders crash-landed just yards from the bridge at Benouville, now known as Pegasus Bridge after the 7th Parachute Battalion’s winged horse insignia, carrying troops from D Company, 2nd Ox and Bucks Light Infantry.

They were later reinforced by the Paras’ 7th Battalion. After a short firefight both bridges were taken.

It has been hailed as ‘the single most important ten minutes of the war’ and featured prominently in the 1962 Hollywood movie ‘The Longest Day’.

Other veterans yesterday spoke of their pride at attending the D-Day 75th anniversary event in Portsmouth along with world leaders, describing it as an emotional chance to remember their comrades who did not return.

The 300 veterans were joined by more than 4,000 personnel involved in D-Day events in the UK and France yesterday in what is one of the biggest mobilisations of the UK Armed Forces in recent history. 

The memorial in Portsmouth featured an hour-long production telling the story of the invasion and a spectacular flypast by RAF warplanes past and present, including a display by the Red Arrows and Spitfires.  

Other events included a ceremony at Pegasus Bridge in France – the scene of a 15-minute skirmish to take hold of the pathways over the Caen Canal and River Orne, and one of the first places British troops liberated on D-Day.

This was attended by D-Day veterans including Reg Charles, 96, the last surviving member of a heroic glider assault on the bridge. 

The event also saw four veterans receive the Legion d’Honneur – radio operator Marie Scott, 92, RAF flight lieutenant Donald Mason, 98, Alfred Nutbein, 93, and Len Trewin, of 8th Battalion, Parachute Regiment.

Yesterday, veterans Harry Read, 95, and John Hutton, 94, will parachute into Normandy in honour of comrades they lost when they first made the descent 75 years ago onto fields at Sannerville. 

They will follow US Second World War paratrooper veteran Tom Rice, 97, who served with the 101st Airbone, who landed safely yesterday following a commemorative parachute jump over Carentan on the Normandy coast. 

Veterans who survived D-Day were guests of honour at today’s commemorations in Portsmouth attended by world leaders

Veteran D-Day radio switchboard operator Marie Scott, 92, was awarded the Legion d’Honneur medal in France today

US Second World War paratrooper veteran Tom Rice, 97, from 101st Airbone, lands following a jump over Carentan yesterday 

Mr Rice smiles as he is applauded after taking part in the parachute drop over Carentan in north-western France this morning

A veteran of the 6th Airborne Division puts his head in his hands during a ceremony at Pegasus Bridge in France yesterday

D-Day veteran Donald Mason salutes after being awarded the Legion d’Honneur medal near Pegasus Bridge in France yesterday

Mr Mason is awarded the Legion d’Honneur medal this morning as countries commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day

The Portsmouth memorial yesterday featured a flypast by RAF warplanes past and present, including a display by the Red Arrows

The Red Arrows flypast takes place, watched by attendees of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth yesterday 

The Red Arrows fly over Portsmouth in 9 Arrow Formation in Portsmouth yesterday. This photo was taken from Red 8’s aircraft

A US Lockheed C-130 Hercules airplane and Boeing-Bell V-22 Osprey aircraft fly over Carentan in Normandy yesterday

In Portsmouth, Sergeant John Jenkins, 99, did a reading at the National Commemorative Event attended by the Queen, US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders of other involved nations. 

The veteran received a standing ovation from the President and the Queen as he led tributes.  Mr Jenkins, who is from Portsmouth, was serving with the Pioneer Corps on D-Day and landed on Gold Beach on June 8 in 1944. 

He said: ‘Obviously I will think of all my mates that didn’t come back. I can’t say any particular one because we were all comrades together, that was the thing. We were all comrades together and that’s what carries us through.

‘The comradeship was really something quite marvellous.’ Mr Jenkins said he felt ‘overwhelmed’ to be at the service and to be chosen to do a reading. ‘It is something that will last in my memory for a long time,’ he said. 

Royal Navy Hawk T1 aircraft take part in the flypast over Portsmouth yesterday, as pictured from the public viewing area

Royal Navy helicopters also take part in the flypast over the D-Day commemoration service in Portsmouth yesterday 

An RAF Spitfire (top) and Hurricane (bottom) take part in the flypast over Portsmouth for the world leaders to view yesterday 

A Royal Air Force Voyager plane in the flypast over Portsmouth yesterday, performed for veterans, world leaders and the public

A Spitfire and Hurricane fly over HMS St Albans as the ship fires a salute off Portsmouth during the visit of the Queen yesterday

D-Day veteran John Jenkins (pictured above) on stage at the commemorations at Southsea Common in Portsmouth yesterday

He added: ‘I was terrified. I think everyone was – you don’t show it, but it’s there. I look back on it as a big part of my life, it changed me in a way – but I was just a small part in a very big machine.  

A collection of Dakotas that dropped paratrooper heroes on D-Day flew from Duxford in Cambridgeshire from 1.40pm

‘You never forget your comrades because we were all in there together. It’s right that the courage and sacrifice of so many veterans is being honoured 75 years on.

‘We must never forget – thank you.’ His words moved many other veterans and attendees to tears during the service.’

After the war Mr Jenkins worked as a bus driver then as a crane operator at the Portsmouth naval base. 

Proud of his country and being a dedicated to his service, he went on to serve in the Territorial Army for many years, rising to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.

He is a lifelong Portsmouth fan and recently said that one message he would give to the generation of tomorrow is for there to be ‘no more wars’.

D-Day veteran, 95, who arrived first on Sword Beach after his landing craft took a direct hit is reunited with a white ensign 75 years later 

Signalman Frank Baugh is reunited with the white ensign which was hoisted on Queen Red Sector of Sword Beach in June 1994

A 95-year-old war veteran who landed on Sword Beach 75 years ago was yesterday reunited with a white ensign that had been hoisted to establish a beachhead.

Signalman Frank Baugh landed on the Queen Red sector in Normandy during the Second World War as part of the D-Day invasions at 7.25am on June 6, 1944.

He was serving with the Royal Navy on landing craft LCI(L)380, part of Flotilla 253 which carried members of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 2nd Batallion.

They were the first craft to land on the sector and took a direct hit from Nazi fire on their approach – but by 8am, the flag had been hoisted on the sand.

Mr Baugh, who now lives in Doncaster, told the Yorkshire Post this week of his arrival at Sword Beach: ‘We found it empty. We were the first landing craft on that section of that beach and that’s not a good place to be in the front.’

The veteran did not return to Normandy for 65 years after the invasion, saying: ‘On D-Day, I never expected living the next hour, never mind to 95.’

He added: ‘The beach was littered with lads who had been killed. It’s an awful feeling. You’re frightened. But you do your job. You have to do it and you don’t want to let your pals down.’

Former British Royal Marine and D-Day veteran Jim Booth poses for a photograph ahead of the event in Portsmouth yesterday

Veteran Commando Mr Booth, 98, talks to armed police officers at yesterday’s commemorative event at Southsea Common

Veteran Bertie Billet poses for a photograph during commemorations for the 75th anniversary in Portsmouth yesterday

British WWII D-Day veteran Len Trewin is pictured after he received the Legion d’Honneur medal near Pegasus Bridge yesterday

US veteran Leonard Ladislas Jintra, from New York, 29 Infantry Division, 115th regiment, in La Cambe, Normandy, yesterday

Arthur Hampson, 93, from Merseyside, was a midshipman with the Royal Navy on D-Day, landing on Juno Beach. ‘As the ramp went down, there was quite a lot of fire coming at us from the shore,’ he said.

D-Day veteran recalls ‘wonderful’ RAF service

Dick Brown, 95, from New Brunswick, at Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer yesterday

A Canadian veteran has paid tribute to his ‘wonderful’ time in the RAF as he marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Dick Brown, 95, from New Brunswick, was stationed with the British Royal Air Force in June 1944 when Allied forces launched the Normandy landings.

He returned to the region this week, commemorating 75 years since the liberation.

He said: ‘I was the only Canadian in my crew. We dropped the gliders at Pegasus Bridge. Then we went back to our base in Dorset, the next day we took off and went back to the French coast. We were rather different, we didn’t drop one single bomb.’

Mr Brown was an air commonwealth trainer during the Second World War but was sent to the UK and assigned to the air force. He said: ‘Most of us went to the Canadians, but some of the lucky ones like myself and others ended up with the RAF. I had a wonderful time.’

The former airman reflected fondly on his military service, but believes this will be the ‘last time’ he will revisit the site. He added: ‘I have very few painful memories. Any I had have faded. I have some terrible instant memories. There were some things I saw that were tough, but you learn to live with them, that’s all.’

Mr Brown was visiting Juno Beach, in Courseulles sur Mer, yesterday, the site of the Canadian beach landings.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend a service at the site tomorrow, alongside his French counterpart Edouard Philippe, where they will address veterans and lay wreaths on the beach.

‘We could see the red flashes coming from houses that the Germans were in on the waterfront. We were popping at the window where we could see that the enemy was shooting at us.’

He described the service as a ‘great experience’ but said he did not regard himself as a hero. 

Mr Hampson said that after D-Day, he returned to Portsmouth. ‘I was having a quiet pint in a pub in Southsea,’ he said.

‘The past 24 hours seemed unreal. We were talking to people in the pub and I think they didn’t believe a word we were saying.’

Les Hammond, 94, from Northampton, a craftsman in the 86 Anti-tank Regiment, who was 19 when he landed on Juno Beach, said: ‘It’s quite emotional I suppose, I didn’t think I would feel like this but I do.

‘I am very much a royalist and I am proud of my country. I intend to live a few more years and have nice memories of today.’ 

Alfred Fuzzard, 97, from Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex, a former petty officer in the Royal Navy who grew up in Portsmouth and who landed on Sword Beach, said: ‘I wouldn’t have missed D-Day for the world.

‘The weather was a bit rough when we went over but it calmed down when we got close to the beach. 

‘I think it’s lovely, I am a fan of Trump actually, I would like to see him as prime minister of this country, shake the bunkers up.

‘Trump has been good for his people but the trouble is that before he opens his mouth, he should think. I would like to meet him because I will ask him if he’s immigrating.

‘I don’t know what lessons you can learn, it’s up to politicians, they drag us into wars don’t they. 

‘We belong to a great nation and the finest fighting people in the world I think. I have seen some very brave men and it’s been wonderful here to meet all these old people and what they gave.

‘In an operation you only see your part, you don’t see what is going on around you whereas here you can hear other people’s stories and it’s been bloody marvellous.’  

The elite bands of brothers who were the first troops into Normandy on D-Day

Operation Overlord saw some 156,000 Allied troops landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

It is thought as many as 4,400 were killed in an operation Winston Churchill described as ‘undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place’.

The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6.30am.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. 

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved.

The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

The assault was chaotic with boats arriving at the wrong point and others getting into difficulties in the water.

Destruction in the northern French town of Carentan after the invasion in June 1944

Troops managed only to gain a small foothold on the beach – but they built on their initial breakthrough in the coming days and a harbour was opened at Omaha.

They met strong resistance from the German forces who were stationed at strongpoints along the coastline.

Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed, inlcuding 6,603 American, of which 2,499 were fatal.

Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favour.

The first wave of troops from the US Army takes cover under the fire of Nazi guns in 1944

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