Royal Marine Commandos making their way onto the 'Nan Red' sector of Juno Beach, 6 June 1944.

The largest amphibious operation in history, D-Day marked the beginning of the liberation of France and Western Europe and was years in the planning.

It drew on the knowledge of meteorologists, scientists, inventors, the combined might of militaries of 13 nations and assistance of tens of thousands of members of the French Resistance. It involved vast deceptions and secret operations to ensure success.

It's no surprise that D-Day has earned its place as one of the most significant battles in history.

77th Anniversary of D-Day (D-Day 77)

Due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic the Royal British Legion is amending its plans to mark the 77th anniversary of D-Day with a programme of commemorative events in Bayeux.

With continuing uncertainties around international travel preventing veterans and relatives of the fallen from attending both the RBL’s annual services of Remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and Bayeux Cemetery and the opening of the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sure-Mer, the Royal British Legion and the Normandy Memorial Trust are instead working together to deliver an event at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

The National Memorial Arboretum is open to pre-booked visitors, and the number of tickets available each day continues to be regulated. Those wishing to visit the Arboretum on 6 June can book remaining tickets online via the Arboretum’s website. To help manage the arrival of visitors to site you will be asked to select an arrival time slot when booking. You will be able to enter the site at any point after your time slot begins and can remain in the Arboretum grounds until they close.

The commemorations at the NMA will include a live broadcast of the opening of the British Normandy Memorial, coverage of the service at Bayeux Cemetery and a Two Minute Silence at 11am.

Veterans will be offered the opportunity to lay a wreath as part of the ceremony at the NMA. Wreaths can be ordered from here.

The event will adhere to the latest government and industry guidance on coronavirus that is in place at the time. As such, places will be limited for pre-booked guests only and priority given to veterans.

If you are, or you know, a Normandy veteran who may wish to attend the event at the NMA please contact commemorative.events@britishlegion.org.uk for more details on how to register your interest.

D-Day 77 Livestream

You can also watch the entire event live from the National Memorial Arboretum on our website or on Facebook.

Watch events live from 10am

D-Day stories

On the 6 June 1944 Operation Overlord, was finally launched as the first step to freeing Western Europe from Axis domination.

The D-Day landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, would include an armada of over 5,000 vessels and ships, nearly 11,000 aeroplanes and over 130,000 ground troops. These vast forces were coordinated from Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force with US General Dwight D Eisenhower appointed supreme commander of this huge conglomerate of troops and resources from different nations.

The landings had been shrouded in secrecy as part of a large coordinated deception effort the Allied secret services launched Operation Fortitude. Split into two parts Fortitude North and Fortitude South the aim was to convince Hitler that the planned invasion would be aimed at Norway (Fortitude North) or the Pas de Calais (Fortitude South).

As a result of these operations Hitler mistakenly moved troops from France to Norway and the German High Command moved divisions away from Normandy and towards Pas-de-Calais. BBC radio messages were broadcast on the eve of D-Day alerting Special Operation Executive Agents and French Resistance forces, encouraging them to make ‘maximum effort’ in carrying out acts of sabotage.

Shortly after midnight on 6 June 23,400 Allied paratroopers were dropped into Normandy to provide tactical support to the troops landing on the beaches. Allied air forces would go on to conduct over 14,000 sorties in support of the landings.

Just after 05:20 the Allied fleet opened up their guns all along the Normandy beaches. Between 06:30 and 07:30 across five beaches which encompassed 50 miles of coastline the Allied armies were landed. By the end of D-Day Allied forces had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties, of which 4,000 were fatalities.

The sacrifice and courage of the men and women who played their part in D-Day whether as service personnel, nurses, engineers, meteorologists, SOE agents or logistical support would secure for the Allies a foothold in mainland Europe for the first time since 1941.

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