May And Macron Mark D-Day 75th Anniversary In France
The Prime Minister was joined by the French President at a ceremony marking the creation of the British Normandy Memorial.
Theresa May has joined French President Emmanuel Macron at Ver-Sur-Mer in Normandy at a ceremony marking the creation of the British Normandy Memorial.
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, and overlooks Gold Beach where many of the troops arrived on D-Day.
Addressing the audience, President Macron said: "The British people have long dreamt of this memorial."
He added: "This is where, 75 years ago, on June 6, 1944, almost 25,000 British soldiers landed in France to free the country from Nazi control.
"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."
"It is time to remedy the fact that no memorial pays tribute to the United Kingdom's contribution to the Battle of Normandy."
He said the monument would also be a symbol of the ties binding France and the UK.
Speaking at the inauguration service, Prime Minister Theresa May said: "It's incredibly moving to be here today, looking out over the beaches where one of the greatest battles for freedom this world has ever known took place."
She continued: "Standing here as the waves wash quietly onto the shore below us, it is almost impossible to grasp the raw courage it must have taken that day to leap from the landing craft and into the surf despite the fury of battle...
"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 also paid tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice, saying: "They laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world."
Seven British D-Day veterans were accompanied by four children, including Sir Winston Churchill's great-great-grandson John Churchill, to lay flowers in front of a sculpture at the memorial depicting three British soldiers storming the beaches.
It was created by David Williams-Ellis to mark the beginning of construction for the memorial, which is expected to be completed within a year.
The ceremony concluded with a piped lament from Trooper Kurtis Rankin of The Royal Dragoon Guards.
Mrs May and President Macron then spoke to the veterans.