D-Day 80: Thousands to take part in events in Normandy and Portsmouth this June

Photographer: Cpl Jamie Hart Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright News / Editorial Licence.

Thousands of Armed Forces personnel and members of the public will take part in events in Normandy and Portsmouth this June.

Members of the public will join D-Day veterans, Armed Forces personnel and special guests to pay tribute to veterans of the Greatest Generation on 5 and 6 June 2024.

The events will ensure the message and legacy of D-Day lives on in a new generation, as hundreds of Portsmouth schoolchildren attend a spectacular cultural commemoration on Southsea Common on 5 June.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak today launched the commemorations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day by lighting a torch that will tour the UK before travelling to France. The Prime Minister handed the Torch of Liberation to D-Day veteran Peter Kent during a ceremony in London.

Image of the (L-R) Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, D-Day veteran Peter Kent and his son Steven, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Jonny Mercer, Trooper Lucy Gregory from the Household Cavalry, Army Cadet Aaron Wijendra and student Eleanor Duftin. Photographer: Simon Dawson – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024. MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

The commemorative torch will now travel to capital cities and key cemeteries and memorials around the country, including in Edinburgh, Manchester and Portsmouth, before travelling to Normandy across the English Channel with D-Day veterans. It will be the centrepiece of the CWGC’s lighting of more than 25,000 Commonwealth war graves this summer – symbolising the human cost of the fight for liberty – and will form a key part of a vigil at Bayeux War Cemetery on the evening of 5 June.

At the event today, Veterans Minister Jonny Mercer, a serving British Army officer, a cadet and a CWGC student volunteer passed the torch between them, symbolising how the D-Day 80 commemorations will pass the message of D-Day through the generations.

Welcoming the D-Day 80 plans for June, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

The country will pay tribute to the heroes who fought against the odds to liberate Europe 80 years ago.

We can never forget those who sacrificed so much to defend the freedom of the UK and our closest allies.

A ticketed event on Southsea Common on 5 June will be the focus of the commemorations at home. The event will feature powerful testimonies from military personnel and D-Day veterans as well as musical performances by a military orchestra.

Veterans who choose to travel to Normandy for the commemorations will be given a spectacular send-off by the Armed Forces as they cross the Channel.

RAF Red Arrows perform a flypast in the UK. Photographer: Cpl Phil Dye. Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will perform a flypast overhead, while Royal Navy ships in Portsmouth Harbour will sail past in formation, sounding their sirens.

On the evening on 5 June, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery will host a spectacular lightshow as the Armed Forces form a vigil. The names of the 25,000 fallen personnel commemorated at the cemetery will be read aloud.

On 6 June, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion will host the UK’s national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer.

The event will conclude with a traditional act of remembrance, including the Last Post and a two-minute silence.

More than 1,600 members of the Armed Forces will lead the commemorations in France. The commemorations also involve contributions from a Royal Marines landing craft, five Royal Navy patrol vessels, minesweeper HMS Cattistock and the British Army’s Red Devils parachute display team.

Image of the Secretary of State for Defence The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (left) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Dir Gen Claire Horton CBE (right). Photographer:
Rosie Hallam – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024. MOD Crown Copyright News / Editorial Licence.

Praising the contribution of the Armed Forces to the plans, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said:

The 80th anniversary of D-Day serves as a reminder never to forget those who fought and died so we might live in freedom and at peace. Their testimony serves as a timeless symbol of the importance of unity, the value of peace and the pursuit of freedom in the face of tyranny.

The eyes of the world will rightfully once again be on these men and women, and I am proud of the work being done by the Armed Forces to pay tribute to the heroes of D-Day at the commemorative events in June.

Source: Ministry of DefenceThe Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP


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