Dday Content

D-Day

In Normandy

A series of commemorative events were held in Normandy to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944.

The Royal British Legion worked in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, the Normandy Veterans Association and other organisations to present these events. The BBC was the official broadcaster.

   

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral

Organised by The Royal British Legion, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended a Service of Remembrance in Bayeux Cathedral.

The Service, from 9.15 to 11.00am was also be attended by veterans and the people of Bayeux as well as senior UK, Australian, New Zealand, French and European allied political representatives. 

This service was one of the two UK-French national ceremonies of commemoration for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

The service included the blessing of a new cathedral bell to mark the 70th anniversary, of which Her Majesty The Queen is one of the "Godparents".

The service was filmed by BBC Events and excerpts may be available online for a short time.

Bayeux Cemetery

From 11.30am to 12.15pm, Her Majesty The Queen, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall attended a Service of Remembrance, organised by The Royal British Legion and the Normandy Veterans' Association at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux.

Senior UK, Australian, New Zealand, French and European allied political representatives and veterans also attended and the event included:

  • an inspection of an Honour Guard of UK Armed Forces personnel drawn from the three Services, supported by a French military band;
  • a procession of Royal British Legion and Normandy Veterans Association Standards;
  • a short parade of veterans;
  • a religious service where The Prince of Wales will read the Lesson; and
  • the laying of wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice by HM The Queen, The Prince Of Wales, The Prime Minister of France and others.

The event was supported by current members of the Armed Forces. 

Following the service, senior guests toured the cemetery to view graves alongside veterans. Their Royal Highnesses also met staff of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and veterans.

The service was filmed by BBC Events and excerpts may be available online for a short time.

Dday70 Bayeuxcemeteryroyals AB 12Ceremony at Bayeux Cemetery to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day (photo Alison Baskerville)

Sword Beach

Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, President Hollande of France, senior allied representatives, Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall and senior UK political representatives were in attendance at Sword Beach from 3-4pm.

The International Commemoration Event was hosted by President Hollande of France, and all Allied Heads of State were invited.

2,000 Allied veterans and their families were in the audience, many of whom travelled from earlier ceremonies in Bayeux.

Arromanches-les-Bains

Organised by the Surrey Branch of the Normandy Veterans Association and Arromanches Local Authority, this event took place between 6 and 7pm on the sea front at Arromanches in the Place du 6 Juin 1944. It included a short parade of veterans, a drumhead service and laying of wreaths at memorials adjacent to the D-Day Museum in the town

Other events on 6 June

To mark the contribution of 6th Airborne Division to D-Day, an Act of Remembrance was held at a memorial in Ranville at 9.30am before veterans marched to a service at the CWGC Cemetery. The events were supported by serving soldiers from 16 Air Assault Bridgade.

A French-led memorial service was held in front of the Tomb of the Fallen Civilian within the walls of Chateau de Caen at 10.30am followed by a ceremony in front of the impressive sculpture to the 3rd (UK) Division outside the castle walls. A regimental piper played a lament from the castle ramparts.

At 12.30pm, a park in Hérouville-Saint-Clair was named after Private Stanley Gilchrist of the Lincolnshire Regiment, the first soldier to enter the village in 1944. Troops from British 3rd (UK) Division were in attendance.

The annual memorial service in front of the 3rd Division Memorial at La Brêche (Sword Beach) was at 7.30pm, followed by a march inland to the village of Hermanville, accompanied by a marching band. French schoolchildren sung the French and British national anthems before laying a rose at the foot of every headstone in the British cemetery.

Events on 5 June

Pegasus Bridge10.00-11.45am Pegasus Bridge and Museum

Laying of wreaths at the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Memorial and at the statue of Brigadier James Hill, Commander of 3rd Parachute Brigade.

1.00-2.00pm Royal Artillery Parade, La Brèche (Sword Beach)

A simple memorial service held in front of the RA Memorial at La Brèche (Sword Beach) attended by approximately 50 'Gunner' veterans of the Normandy Campaign and 120 serving 'Gunners' from the Royal Artillery. The event was marked by a ceremonial bugler from the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery and regimental piper.

1.00-3.00pm Veterans' lunch hosted by Maire of Ranville

Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, Minstry of Defence Minister, General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff and veterans of the Parachute Regiment with their families attended. Ranville was the first village to be liberated on D-Day.

3.45-4.45pm Commemorative Parachute Descent, Ranville

More than 300 soldiers, including 150 UK troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade and personnel from the United States, Canada and France, perfomred a commemorative parachute descent onto the wartime Drop Zone N on the outskirts of Ranville, observed by Their Royal Highnesses and other guests. 

The event began with a drop by the Red Devils, the Parachute Regiment’s freefall display team, accompanied by D-Day veteran Jock Hutton performing a tandem drop. This was followed by a flypast of two Spitfires and a Lancaster aircraft of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The main parachute drop followed, led by 12 UK troops jumping from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's Dakota aircraft.

Representatives of each section of the drop – including the Red Devils and Jock Hutton – were presented to His Royal Highness after landing.

4-5.15pm  Service at British Garden of Remembrance, Caen

During a short religious service serving soldiers lay a rose in front of the memorials to the 15 British Divisions that took part in the Normandy Campaign. Ceremonies concluded with a Vin d’Honneur outside the Memorial Museum followed by a colourful Beating the Retreat concert of military music attended by Normandy veterans.

Cafe Gondree5-5.30pm Memorial Service at Les Mesnil Bavent

Commemorating the actions of 1st (Canadian) Parachute Battalion and other units of 3 Parachute Brigade, this short service was attended by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.

5.45-6.15pm Reception at Breville Les Monts

The Prince of Wales and other guests joined veterans for a reception at the Salle de Fete after a short memorial service in the town for members of the 12thn Parachute Battalion, a company from the 12th Battalion Devonshire Regiment and the 22nd Independent Parachute Company, who suffered heavy losses in an attache on 12-13 June 1944.

11pm to midnight Pegasus Bridge Midnight Vigil

Troops from 1st Battalion The Rifles and the Army Air Corps held a vigil to mark the moment gliders landed to capture Pegasus Bridge, including a symbolic Champagne toast at Café Gondrée, the first building in France to be liberated, and a firework display.

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