Members of the Armed Forces joined veterans of the Normandy Landings witnessed the opening of the British Normandy Memorial at a ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today (Sunday 6 June).
While the veterans are currently unable to visit the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, France due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, they gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum to watch a live stream of the events in Normandy.
The event took place on the 77th anniversary of D-Day – one of the largest military invasions in world history and the beginning of the end of the Second World War.
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty MP attended the event at the Arboretum on behalf of the Government.
The veterans gathered at the Arboretum were honoured by a flypast by the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and music by The Band of the Yorkshire Regiment, British Army.
The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – the Red Arrows – flew over the memorial in Normandy during an official opening ceremony attended by the British Ambassador to France, Edward Llewellyn OBE.
A bugler from the Royal Marines performed the Last Post at the commemoration in Staffordshire, while personnel from 16 Signal Regiment British Army helped veterans visit the event in comfort and safety.
At the Arboretum event, nine veterans were formally presented with the Légion d’honneur – France’s highest honour. The French Government has presented the award to thousands of veterans of the Normandy Campaign in recognition of their service to France – the UK’s closest European ally.