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80th anniversary of D-Day marked at the British Normandy Memorial

The 80th anniversary of D-Day was marked with a poignant ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial today, Their Majesties The King and Queen, veterans, servicemen and women, and the public gathered to honour the sacrifices made during the historic landings. 

His Majesty giving a speech at the service.

The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment provided music throughout the ceremony, including a medley of war songs, evoking memories of the era and paying musical tribute to the bravery and resilience of those who served. 

Following this, the King's Colour Squadron participated in a tri-service guard of honour, symbolising the unity and collaboration of the Armed Forces during the D-Day operations. 

Veterans arriving at the event.

Throughout the event, the stories of veterans were shared, bringing to life the experiences of those who fought on the beaches of Normandy. AS1 Karanja took the stage to read a poignant piece on behalf of former aircraft fitter, John Westlake, who was unable to attend the event, ensuring that his voice and story were part of the commemoration. 

A veteran shown with his hands in the air on a big screen at the event.

Veterans were given the honour of front-row seats, and greeted to a round of applause and standing ovation as they entered and exited the Memorial. For many of these heroes, this event represented their last opportunity to attend a major D-Day commemoration. 

More veterans arriving at the event.

This year’s 80th anniversary is also particularly special as it marked the first time the completed British Normandy Memorial has been at the heart of major milestone commemorations. 

"On the beaches of Normandy, in the seas beyond, and in the skies overhead, our Armed Forces carried out their duty with a humbling sense of resolve and determination. But many of them never came home. They lost their lives on D-Day landing grounds or in the many battles that followed.  

It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all those that served at that critical time. "

His Majesty The King 

His Majesty saluting.

The memorial not only records the names of over 22,000 British troops who were killed during the Normandy Landings but also pays tribute to the French civilians who lost their lives.  

Band playing music.

Surrounding the memorial were 1,475 silhouettes, created by the artistic project Standing with Giants, to represent the British command fatalities on 6 June 1944. Personnel from RAF Brize Norton had contributed to this moving tribute by helping paint some of the silhouettes earlier in the year, demonstrating the ongoing commitment of the RAF to remembering and honouring its past. 

Red Arrows flypast.

The ceremony was brought to a memorable close with a flypast by the Red Arrows, providing a fitting and awe-inspiring tribute to the heroes of D-Day.