Each year we commemorate the anniversary of D-Day - 6 June 1944 - one of the most memorable wartime operations ever planned and executed.
D-Day: the biggest wartime operation
“We cannot afford to fail.”General Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander in the run-up to D-Day.
Midnight had not long struck when the British and American airborne armada began its mission on 6 June 1944 in the moonlight. They landed at the edges of the invasion area on the Normandy coast to secure the western and eastern flanks of the beachheads and protect them from German attacks.
Failure would have seen Hitler given the opportunity to initiate an eleventh-hour attempt to save Germany and launch his new V-weapons against British cities. Success would mean the beginning of the end of the Third Reich.
NORMANDY VETERAN Tours
Remembrance Travel arranges special fully funded Journeys of Remembrance to enable Normandy veterans to revisit the beaches and landmarks they encountered during the D-Day landings. These tours are LIBOR funded and free for a veteran and two carers / family members. An official Royal British Legion guide will accompany you on the 5 day personalised journey. Visit www.remembrancetravel.org.uk for more information.
Each year the Legion arranges commemorative services in Bayeux on the anniversary of D-Day. Up until (and including) the 70th anniversary, this was in conjunction with the Normandy Veteran's Association, which sadly retired its colours and disbanded in 2014.
On major anniversaries, the event becomes of international significance and attracts royalty, national leaders and veterans from across the globe. Here are some items from previous major anniversaries:
70th anniversary, 2014
There were a variety of events held on both sides of the channel to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
On 6 June, the Legion and the Normandy Veterans Association organised a United Kingdom-France Service of Remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral, followed by a special event at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cemetery. A number of veterans also attended an international ceremony organised by the French Government on Sword Beach and a service held by the Normandy Veterans Association at Arromanches. We followed Len Bloomfield when he returned to Normandy for the last time.
And in the UK there were events at Portsmouth and the National Memorial Arboretum.
65th anniversary, 2009
In 2009, the Legion arranged for flags of messages to be planted on the beach at Asnelles. 12,000 Union Flags, each one bearing a message of thanks in Remembrance of the sacrifices made on D-Day, were planted at Asnelles, part of GOLD beach used by British Forces on D-Day.
We were joined by 80 children from schools around London and the South East, who travelled to Normandy as part of our Remembrance Travel for Schools and Young People D-Day 65 excursion. As well as planting flags, the children met with D-Day veterans to talk about their experiences on D-Day.
“The best thing about the trip for me was speaking to the veterans, real people with amazing experiences. It's humbling really, to think they risked their lives for us. We laid wreaths in a British Cemetery on the last day of the trip and our school wrote that 'we will always remember those who fought and died, sacrificing their tomorrows for our todays'. We can't forget that we wouldn't live our lives the way we do if it wasn't for the men on D-Day and others in the war.”Fern, Year 10, Sittingbourne Community College
60th anniversary, 2004
In 2004, the Legion launched a big 'thank you' to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the extraordinary bravery displayed by the men who took part in the D-Day operations.
A dozen veterans recalled their memories, impressions and the role they played during the historic day. You can read their stories here.
Additionally, we planted 1,520 flags, one for each man who fell on 6 June 1944.
Every one of them helped to change the outcome of the Second World War on 6 June 1944 and liberate Europe from the grip of the Nazis.