D-Day

D-Day: British Normandy Memorial Unveiled In France On 77th Anniversary

The opening ceremony, featuring a message from Prince Charles, took place at the site in Ver-sur-Mer.

The British Normandy Memorial has been unveiled in Ver-sur-Mer, France, on the 77th anniversary of D-Day.

The Allied invasion of Normandy, known as D-Day, took place on 6 June 1944, and was the largest amphibious assault ever launched.

The new memorial commemorates servicemen and women under British command who fell on D-Day and during the Battle of Normandy that followed.

With many unable to travel to Normandy due to COVID-19 restrictions, the opening was livestreamed to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where more than 500 Normandy veterans, their families, and relatives of the fallen came together.

One of those was D-Day veteran Eric Strange, who was on a landing craft that went into Sword beach on D-Day.

He told Forces News: "There's an awful lot of people who didn't come back to tell it and that's really the people we remember and why we come.

"There's an awful lot of graves over there but we're the lucky ones."

The Prince of Wales, Patron of the Normandy Memorial Trust, opened the memorial with a video message, which he said "in no way obscures the enormous regard and admiration in which we hold our veterans or diminishes our debt of gratitude".

Prince Charles added: "I know just how much our incomparable veterans had hoped to be in Normandy today to see "their" memorial for themselves.

The Red Arrows flew over the opening ceremony of the British Normandy Memorial (Picture: britishnormandymemorial.org).

"As I said when I first became aware of the plans for this long overdue British memorial, it has for many years been a concern to me that the memory of these remarkable individuals should be preserved for future generations as an example of personal courage and sacrifice for the benefit of the wider national, and indeed international, community.

"I can only hope that this serves to commemorate all those whose lives were lost during the events of June 1944, and between D-Day and the liberation of Paris at the end of August 1944.

"May God bless our veterans, their families, and all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice as a result of the operations around D-Day and during the battle of Normandy," he added.

The British Ambassador to France, Lord Edward Llewellyn, presided over the opening ceremony and opened the memorial on His Royal Highness's behalf.

A small group, including 97-year-old British Normandy veteran David Mylchreest, French Minister for the Armed Forces, Madame Florence Parly, Senior French guests and the Chairman of the Normandy Memorial Trust, Lord Peter Ricketts, gathered in front of the 'D-Day Wall'.

The commemorations also included coverage of the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance in Bayeux, a two-minute silence and a flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Lord Peter Ricketts, Chairman of the Normandy Memorial Trust, said: "Today belongs to our wonderful veterans.

"They were the ones who campaigned tirelessly for a fitting monument to all their comrades who never came home."

 

Legion d’honeur presented in the far distance as the British Normandy Memorial ceremony livestreamed at National Memorial Arboretum.

The British Normandy Memorial records the names of the 22,442 servicemen and women from about 30 different countries, inscribed in stone.

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: "It's always incredibly moving to see serving members of the Armed Forces pay tribute to the 'Greatest Generation' at commemorations like this.

"We're so grateful to the Normandy Memorial Trust for bringing this spectacular project to life and pleased the Government could help fund this memorial."

The site also includes a French Memorial, dedicated to the memory of French civilians who died during this time.

British Ambassador to France, Lord Llewellyn said: "So many veterans campaigned tirelessly for the British Normandy Memorial and I am honoured to open their memorial today and see their dream come to fruition."

Many families of the fallen have shared personal stories of their loved ones which can be found on the British Normandy Memorial App.

The National Memorial Arboretum is the UK's year-round centre of remembrance and the 150-acre garden and woodland site is home to almost 400 memorials dedicated to members of the Armed Forces, emergency services and community organisations.