Friday 23 August 2019

As it happened: Emotional tributes to fallen heroes at services to mark D-Day anniversary

Veteran Frank Baugh, 95, who served as a signalman with the Royal Navy on a landing craft during D-Day, attends the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France
Veteran Frank Baugh, 95, who served as a signalman with the Royal Navy on a landing craft during D-Day, attends the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France
The UK's Prince Charles lays a wreath at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
D-Day veteran Vincent Horton, 93, from Stoke-On-Trent, lays a wreath at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Jane Barlow/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings Steve Parsons/PA Wire
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sits with D-Day veteran John Greig, 95, from Dumfries, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemtery in Bayeaux, France, ahead of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
D-Day veteran John Quinn meets George Sayer, 6, in Bayeaux, France on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance, Bayeux Cathedral, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

The courage and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in the heroic D-Day landings 75 years ago has been honoured in moving ceremonies in both France and Britain.

World leaders gathered with D-Day World War II veterans for special services of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral and the nearby Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in northern France.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Steve Parsons/PA Wire

D-Day on June 6 1944 was the largest amphibious invasion in history, and ultimately led to the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.

At the Bayeux cemetery service, 95-year-old former British soldier Frank Baugh gave his own moving, personal account of how he was a signalman on a landing craft that took 200 troops from 2nd Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry from Newhaven to Sword beach.

Surrounded by rows and rows of pristine white graves and standing in front of the towering Cross of Sacrifice, the veteran said: "My most abiding memory of that day is of seeing our boys. We had been talking to them minutes before they were cut down with machine gun fire...

"They would fall into the water, floating face down, and we couldn't get them out.

The Duchess of Cornwall talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings Steve Parsons/PA Wire
The Duchess of Cornwall talks with Prime Minister Theresa May at the Royal British Legion's Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France, as part of commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings Steve Parsons/PA Wire

"We couldn't help them and that is my most abiding memory and I can't forget it."

He finished his emotional speech, with "Thank you for listening", and a salute.

Hundreds of people had earlier lined the streets of Bayeux to clap and cheer veterans as they paraded from the cathedral to the nearby cemetery.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was among those who placed wreaths of poppies at the cemetery's central cross to honour the fallen.

Bayeux, close to the northern French coast, was the first major place to be liberated, after the Allied forces invasion.

Earlier a service of remembrance was also held in the city's gothic cathedral.

D-Day veteran John Quinn meets George Sayer, 6, in Bayeaux, France on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
D-Day veteran John Quinn meets George Sayer, 6, in Bayeaux, France on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The 1,000-strong congregation, including a number of notable British politicians and royals, declared in unison: "We shall remember them", before a two-minute silence.

US troops were also honoured when American President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania and French President Emmanuel Macron attended the US commemorations at Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer.

Mr Trump told veterans: "Our debt to you is everlasting."

Early on Thursday morning, Mrs May and Mr Macron paid their respects at Ver-Sur-Mer, at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial, overlooking Gold Beach where many of the troops arrived on D-Day.

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.

Mrs May, completing one of her last engagements as PM, said: "Standing here, as the waves wash quietly on to the shore, it's almost impossible to grasp the raw courage that it must have taken that day to leap out from landing craft and into the surf - despite the fury of battle."

She added: "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."

In the UK, Britain's Prince William delivered the D-Day address made by his great-grandfather George VI, and met veterans at a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

At the National Memorial Arboretum,he laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial, with the personal message: "In memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them."

Giving George VI's speech, said: "This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause."

Meanwhile in London, Prince Harry joined six Normandy landings veterans at the Chelsea Pensioners' annual Founder's Day Parade, saying he was honoured to be in their presence.

The start of the day was marked in France at 7.25am local time by lone piper Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners) playing a lament on the remaining Mulberry harbour in the town called Port Winston.

This signalled the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold Beach.

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