Today is a special day for humanity. It is a day which should have us to remember all those who died in the multiple wars. But it should also bring grate gratitude for those who were forced to see and feel the most awful things what can surround man.
A general called it “The Longest Day” and as such it also became known in the world of historical facts and in the world of fictitious film.
The reality can never be brought unto the screen like it really was. The world on the 6th of June 1944 at the West coast of France could see the biggest amphibious invasion of all time, and the beginning of the end of the Second World War. However it is described, D-Day is undoubtedly one of the most significant turning points in a six-year war that witnessed the deaths of an estimated 70-85 million people.
It brought together the military might of the US, the British Empire, British Commonwealth of Nations and a handful of other allied countries to launch a full scale assault on Nazi-occupied France. In doing so, it would not just secure a foothold in Europe, it would open a new front against the German war machine.
June the 6th 1944. Without a doubt one of the most important dates in modern history.
It marks the date on which almost 160.000 Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches to start the liberation of Western-Europe. The assault was preceded by 24.000 troops who parachuted in or came by glider. The most important aircraft to support the airborne assault was formed by over 800 Douglas C-47 Skytrains (Dakotas). These winged work horses carried the brunt of all men into battle across the English Channel and may well be called the “Unsung Heroes”.
Thousands died on the beaches of Normandy and in the fields beyond them.
By night-time on 6 June 1944, about 156,000 Allied troops had landed on Normandy’s beaches, despite challenging weather and fierce German defences. Some had drowned when they were accidentally dropped off too soon in deep waters.
Let us remember them especially today and be thankful for the courage they manage to get them through a disaster trauma they were going to carry with them for all their life.
By the end of D-Day, the Allies had established a foothold in France and within 11 months Nazi Germany was defeated and the war was over.
Each year, thousands of people descend on Normandy in France to pay homage to the soldiers, sailors and airmen who took part in D-Day, Operation Overlord and the Battle of Normandy. Veterans and their families, political figures, re-enactors, military vehicle enthusiasts and thousands of other men, women and children pay tribute to the those who fought to liberate Europe and remember those who never returned.
Certain to be some of the most spectacular events for 2019 – and almost certainly never to be repeated – are being organised by Daks Over Normandy. Probably not since the Second World War will so many C-47 Skytrain (or “Dakota”, as the British called the aircraft) have shared the same piece of sky. More than 30 aircraft from several countries have so far committed to the project.
Yesterday in Southampton Theresa May said she was humbled to be able to mark the moment with veterans, who belonged to a “very special generation”.
“A generation whose unconquerable spirit shaped the post-war world. They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served,”
she said and told the ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion that the only words we can say to veterans, from America, Britain, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Norway, Poland and Australia, along with their brothers in arms, those many heroes who lost their lives here during that summer of 1944, are
Her words were echoed by French President Emmanuel Macron, who told D-Day veterans gathered in northern France that we owe them “our freedom”.
The day of commemorative events began with a lone piper marking the moment the first UK soldiers went ashore.
The US president is at a service at the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach.
Hundreds of veterans have gathered in Normandy for the anniversary of the largest combined land, air and naval operation in history.
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Mr Macron and Mrs May – in one of her final engagements as Conservative leader – were in Ver-sur-Mer to see the first stone laid for a memorial to commemorate the 22,442 British troops who died there in the summer of 1944.
Mrs May remembered all of those men sent in their death
“And they laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world.
No we do know that at the time the leaders knew 1/3 would die in the effort to enter the continent.
“If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come in France, in Britain, in Europe and the world, that day was June 6, 1944,”
Mrs May added.
Also paying tribute, Mr Macron said:
“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.”
The French president went on to say he was proud to have worked with Mrs May.
Following the inauguration ceremony, Mrs May, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon attended a service at the cathedral in Bayeux, the first city to be liberated by the invasion.
At the start of the service, a message was read out on behalf of Pope Francis, in which he said D-Day was
“decisive in the fight against Nazi barbarism”.
He also paid tribute to those who “joined the Army and gave their lives for freedom and peace”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the service was “beautiful and inclusive”, in memory of those “who died in Normandy and ultimately helped to defeat the scourge of facism”.
The service was followed by a ceremony at Bayeux War Cemetery, where many of the fallen are buried.
At 06:26 BST – the exact minute the first British troops landed on the beaches in 1944 – a lone piper played on a section of the Mulberry Harbour in the town of Arromanches.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is at the US war cemetery at Omaha Beach, Colleville-sur-Mer.
Other events taking place include:
- A veteran’s parade in Arromanches, followed by a Red Arrows flypast
- A service of remembrance and wreath laying at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire
- In Portsmouth, a veteran’s parade before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone
- The Duke of Sussex is joining the Chelsea Pensioners and six D-Day veterans for Founder’s Day at London’s Royal Hospital Chelsea
- In Edinburgh, 15 D-Day veterans will be presented with the Knight of the Légion d’Honneur Cross at the French Consulate
At the National Memorial Arboretum, the Duke of Cambridge gave an address which was originally made by his great-grandfather George VI in 1944.
He read: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Wednesday saw the first day of the 75th anniversary events, with leaders from every country that fought alongside the UK on D-Day joining the Queen in Portsmouth.
Veterans of the landings were there to hear the Queen as she paid tribute to the “heroism, courage and sacrifice” of those who died.
Mr Trump – who was on the last day of his three-day UK state visit – said D-Day “may have been the greatest battle ever”.
- 156,000allied troops landed in Normandy, across
- 5 beaches
- 7,000ships and landing craft involved and 10,000 vehicles
- 4,400from the combined allied forces died on the day
- 4,000 – 9,000German casualties
- Thousandsof French civilians also died
Around 300 veterans were then waved off on the cruise ship MV Boudicca as it set off for the Normandy commemorations.
But two veterans – Harry Read, 95, and John Hutton, 94, – parachuted back into Normandy, 75 years after their first landing.
This time, they jumped in tandem with members of the Army’s Parachute Regiment display team, the Red Devils – and were greeted by cheers.