Donald Trump today led world leaders including Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France and hailed the men who ‘won back this ground for civilisation’. More than 500 British and Americans veterans who stormed the Normandy coastline on June 6, 1944, have also travelled there to remember their
Donald Trump today led world leaders including Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France and hailed the men who ‘won back this ground for civilisation’.
More than 500 British and Americans veterans who stormed the Normandy coastline on June 6, 1944, have also travelled there to remember their comrades who died.
Today President Trump stood in the American Cemetery and Memorial above Omaha Beach, where 2,000 of his countrymen lost their lives, and described it as ‘Freedom’s Altar’ during a poignant ceremony where he hugged US veterans and President Macron.
He said: ‘On these shores on this day 75 years ago, ten thousand men shed their blood – and thousands sacrificed their lives for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty’.
In a touching moment President Trump stopped his speech to embrace veteran Russell Pickett, 94, who was a 19-year-old private during the landings at Omaha, telling him: ‘Russell Picket is the last known survivor of the legendary company A. Today, believe it or not, he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Picket, you honour us all with your presence.’
President Macron whispered in Mr Pickett’s ear and helped him to his feet before the leader of free world hugged him.
Around 15 miles away above Gold Beach, where British troops landed 75 years ago today, Theresa May paid tribute to the heroes who ‘laid down their lives so that we might have a better life’, calling them ‘the greatest generation’.
The Prince of Wales is representing the Queen in France today and was at Bayeux Cathedral where he and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, joined the PM and 300 British D-Day veterans for a remembrance service.
Afterwards hundreds of people lined the streets of the city to clap the returning soldiers as they paraded to the nearby Commonwealth War Graves ceremony, with locals kissing them and shaking their hands as they passed.
And in Britain Prince William laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial in Staffordshire, along with dignitaries and veterans, while Prince Harry attended an event with Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital in London.
Today the world mourned its D-Day heroes on an emotional day in northern France that began with a ceremony at dawn where a lone piper played a lament at 6.36am – the exact moment British troops first charged across the sand towards their Nazi foes.
Dakota C-47s, the model of aircraft used by the US to parachute troops into France on D-Day, screech across the sky above Emmanuel Macron, Donald Trump and their wives Brigitte and Melania as they stood above Omaha Beach in Normandy today
President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Brigitte Macron watch a flypast of French jets passing over Omaha Beach as the world stopped to remember the 75th anniversary of D-Day
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall walk through Bayeux War Cemetery inspecting the graves of British heroes who died invading France in 1944
President Macron helps veteran Russell Pickett, 94, who was a 19-year-old private during the landings, to his feet so he can be hugged by President Trump at a moving
President Macron hugs another US veteran after handing him France’s Legion of Honour as Donald Trump applauds
President of France Macron and President Trump embraced during a ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France – better known as Omaha Beach
D-Day veteran John Quinn clutches the hand of George Sayer, 6, in Bayeaux, as young and old gathered to remember D-Day
The Trumps visited the graves of America’s D-Day heroes and laid flowers in their memory today having called Omaha Beach ‘Freedom’s Altar’
D-Day veteran Fredrick Adamson, 99, from Doncaster with his grandson Philip Knight, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux today
In Britain, a visibly moved Prince William pauses as he speaks during a service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire
After his speech the Duke Of Cambridge laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial to those who died in the summer of 1944
The Duke of Sussex laughs as he talks to Chelsea Pensioners during a D-Day event at the Royal Hospital Chelsea today
President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attend a commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, above Omaha Beach
Donald Trump salutes to US veterans as he arrived at Omaha Beach alongside Emmanuel Macron of France as world leaders gathered in Normandy today
President Trump greets Brigitte Macron during the commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of D-Day at the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer
The President’s wife Brigitte Macron accompanied First Lady Melania Trump on the red carpet through a guard of honour made up of French and American servicemen and women
In Bayeux Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mourdaunt (far left) Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May attended a memorial service at the city’s cemetery
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wipes a tear as he delivers a speech during the international ceremony on Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, where his countrymen helped the invasion of Europe
Mrs May grips the hand of a veteran after her speech where she thanked the hundreds of thousands of people who fought in France on June 6, 1944
US veteran Jack Gutman, who was 18-years-old when he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, wipes away tears during a ceremony at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, north-western France this morning
David Woodrow,95, a member of the 652 Squadron AOP, landed on Gold Beach 75 years ago today and was there to see a new Normandy Memorial Trust monument to British soldiers unveiled
A spectator shakes the hand of a British veteran who is part of a procession leaving the Bayeux Cathedral
A delighted war hero smiles and shares a few words with the hundreds of well-wishers who lined the streets of Bayeux today
A British WWII D-Day veteran salutes a serving Army Officer as he clutches a wreath he will lay at the Commonwealth War Cemetery today
Veteran Ron Nolan is kissed by a French well-wisher in Arromanches, France, as her President, Emmanuel Macron, thanked the men who freed their nation from Hitler’s grip
At the Britain’s National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire a serviceman sobs on the shoulder of a loved-one in front of the monument listing all members of the armed forces killed since the end of Second World War
Six-year-old George Sayer, from Chipping Ongar in Essex, wearing the medals and cap of his great uncle, also called George Sayer, views the headstones following the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux today
Visitors watch as Second World War-era C-47 airplanes do a flyover at the main ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary at the Normandy American Cemetery
How D-Day 75 will be marked in Normandy today
5am, Le Havre: Veterans aboard Royal British Legion cruise liner MV Boudicca arrive in Normandy
6.26am Arromanches: Lone piper standing on Mulberry harbour marks exact moment first British soldier landed on Gold Beach, followed by flag-raising.
7.30am Ver-sur-Mer, above Gold beach: Theresa May and President Macron attend inauguration of British Normandy Memorial – the first monument to honour the 22,442 UK and Commonwealth heroes who never came home – which is being built with help from generous Daily Mail readers.
9am – 9.45am Bayeux Cathedral: Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Theresa May will join 300 British veterans at annual Service of Remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral. Veterans then walk 600 yards to Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery.
11am to Noon Bayeux, Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery for Service of Remembrance attended by Prince Charles and Theresa May.
Noon – US cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer: Donald Trump and President Macron attend ceremony overlooking Omaha Beach for 9,380 American dead.
2.15pm – Arromanches: British veterans gather in town overlooking Gold Beach.
5pm Arromanches: Jim Radford, 90, right, who was a cabin boy, will sing his hit ballad The Shores of Normandy, which is heading to No 1 in the charts.
5.25pm, Arromanches: Parachute displays by Army’s Red Devils.
10.30pm, Arromanches: Firework finale and Central Band of the RAF leading veterans in singing We’ll Meet Again, White Cliffs of Dover and Auld Lang Syne.
President Trump and Mrs May joined President Macron and Canadian Prime Minister at the five D-Day beaches: Gold, Utah, Omaha, Juno and Sword and met veterans who fought for freedom.
The Prince of Wales is representing the Queen in France today and his first engagement was at Bayeux Cathedral where he and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, joined the PM and 300 British D-Day veterans for a service of remembrance.
Afterwards hundreds of people lined the streets of Bayeux to clap them as they paraded to the nearby Commonwealth War Graves ceremony, with locals kissing them and shaking their hands as they passed.
From dawn on June 6 1944 – known as the Longest Day – 156,000 troops left landing craft and raced on to the sand along the Normandy coast to smash Hitler’s Nazis – supported by 250,000 more men at sea or in the air.
These brave men, from all corners of the world, gained a foothold in France that turned the Second World War and would lead to the liberation of Europe within a year.
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania gathered with French president Emmanuel Macron for the US commemorations at Omaha Beach in Colleville-sur-Mer, where Mr Trump told veterans: ‘Our debt to you is everlasting’.
‘Today we express our undying gratitude. When you were young – these men enlisted their lives in a great crusade – one of the greatest of all times,’ he said.
‘Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious eternal struggle between good and evil.’
President Trump took off from Shannon in Ireland after tweeting: ‘They did not know if they would survive the hour. They did not know if they would grow old. But they knew that America had to prevail. Their cause was this Nation, and generations yet unborn’. He wrote as he prepared to leave his Irish hotel for France: ‘A big and beautiful day today!’
Mrs May was accompanied to Bayeux by her husband Philip on her last day as Tory leader, and Prince Charles was with his wife Camilla, (together right)
Theresa May curtseys for the Prince of Wales outside Bayeux Cathedral in Normandy today as world leaders and royalty gathered to remember those who fought for freedom on D-Day
Sunlight shines above the altar of Bayeux Cathedral where the Pope sent a message paying tribute to those who ‘joined the Army and gave their lives for freedom and peace’
British veteran Tony Cash stands proudly in the Normandy Sunshine today – 75 years after he landed in Frances with 156,000 others from around the world
A former serviceman who fought on D-Day is supported by a loved-one as he walked over the cobbles in Bayeux today
Before heading to Bayeux Mrs May spoke with veterans at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial above Gold Beach today
Prince Charles shakes hands with veterans as he and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall attend a memorial service at Bayeux War Cemetery
Canadian veteran Leon Teacher, 96, at the D-Day ceremony on Juno Beach in Courseulles while ten miles away in Bayeux a D-Day veteran was in tears during the Royal British Legion’s Service of Remembrance
Prince Charles and Camilla, who represented Britain in the Queen’s absence, walked alone past British graves at the Bayeux War Cemetery today
Earlier the heir to the throne paid his respects to the fallen after laying a wreath of poppies at the Second World War memorial
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (4L) and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended the Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Bayeux
Theresa May’s first engagement was with President Macron where they unveiled a new memorial to British soldiers who died in Normandy on the dune above Gold Beach (pictured in the background)
Mrs May and Mr Macron kissed and hugged at the end of the ceremony as the PM headed to Bayeux to see Prince Charles and the French President went to see Donald Trump
Crowds gathered on Gold beach this morning to listen to Lone Piper, Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie of the 19th regiment, Royal Artillery, who played at the very minute British troop ran up the sands – 6.26am UK time
At dawn a man in Second World War uniform looks over the beach at Arromanches – better known as Gold Beach – which was a scene of bloodshed and battle 75 years ago today
D-Day was the biggest invasion of all time with 156,000 troops landing from the Channel and 250,000 more in ships, flying planes or parachuted into France on June 6, 1944
Trump hugs the last survivor of Omaha Beach’s company A and pays tribute to ‘tough guy’ who stormed the beaches
President Donald Trump offered a rare show of emotion when he hugged 94-year-old veteran Russell Pickett
President Donald Trump today offered a rare show of emotion when he hugged 94-year-old veteran Russell Pickett, who stormed the beaches of Normandy as a 19-year-old during World War II.
Pickett was 19 years old when he stormed Normandy
Mr Pickett was among the elite troops of Company A, 116th Infantry, who were specially chosen to storm the sands of Omaha Beach during the first phase of the D-Day landings – known as the ‘suicide wave’.
‘Tough guy,’ the president praised him after hugging him today.
In his speech he said: ‘Russell Pickett is the last known survivor of the legendary company A. Today, believe it or not, he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Pickett, you honor us all with your presence,’
Trump said in his remarks at the American cemetery of Colleville-sur-Mer in Normandy, France.
The Army veteran told his local ABC news station in 2016 that his company, known as part of the ‘suicide wave’ that led the charge, had a high casualty rate on the day they landed in Normandy.
‘A company was 96 percent casualty within the first 30-45 minutes,’ Pickett said. ‘They) figured half of them dead. The other half of the casualties wounded which I was one of the casualties.’
Pickett was on a Higgins boat, holding a flame thrower when his vessel was hit.
“I tried to get up and my legs wouldn’t work. I wasn’t hurting anywhere, scared to death of course which that might have been what was wrong with me,’ he recalled.
A nearby boat pulled him out of the water and to safety.
This afternoon dignitaries and veterans laid commemorative wreaths at the Cross of Sacrifice at the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in Bayeux, alongside men who served in the Normandy campaign.
The Prince of Wales and Prime Minister took part as the band of the Bugles and Rifles played.
Veteran Frank Baugh, 95, told a service at Bayeux Cemetery how he was a signalman on a landing craft that took 200 troops from 2nd Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry from Newhaven to Sword beach.
He described how the troops landed in about 4ft of rough water under ‘heavy machine gun fire’ at 7.25am.
The landing craft was hit and the number 2 troop space caught fire, leaving some badly injured and having to stay on the ship, but those who had been lightly injured followed their comrades, he said.
‘They wanted to go with their partners and that’s what happened,’ Mr Baugh said.
‘My most abiding memory of that day is seeing our boys we had been talking to the minute before.
‘They got cut down with machine gun fire. They would fall into the water, floating face down and we couldn’t get them out.
‘We couldn’t help them. That is my most abiding memory and I can’t forget it.’
Prime Minister Theresa May, the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon were among those attending the service.
After sunrise at Gold Beach, Theresa May and President Macron attended the inauguration of a new monument listing the names of all 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the campaign in northern France over the summer of 1944.
The centrepiece of the new memorial is a bronze sculpture of three British soldiers charging up the beach, and it has been funded by the Normandy Memorial Trust and thousands of Daily Mail readers.
Speaking at the inauguration service, the Prime Minister 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. These young men belonged to a very special generation, the greatest generation. They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served’.
Mrs May paid tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the ‘greatest generation’ of service personnel who served during the landings.
‘If one day can be said to have determined the fate of generations to come, in France, in Britain, in Europe and in the world, that day was the 6 June 1944,’ she said.
‘More than 156,000 men landed on D-Day, of which 83,000 were from Britain and the Commonwealth.
‘Over a quarter of a million more supported operations from air and sea, while the French Resistance carried out extraordinary acts of bravery from behind enemy lines.
‘Many were terribly wounded, and many made the ultimate sacrifice that day, and in the fierce sacrifice that followed, as together our Allied nations sought to release Europe from the grip of fascism.’
The Prime Minister read the names of several British troops who were killed during the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy.
At a commemoration service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the Duke of Cambridge delivered the D-Day address made by his great-grandfather King George VI in 1944.
He said: ‘Four years ago our nation and empire stood alone against an overwhelming enemy, with our backs to the wall.
‘Now once more a supreme test has to be faced. This time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause.
‘At this historic moment surely not one of us is too busy, too young, or too old to play a part in a nationwide, perchance a world-wide vigil of prayer as the great crusade sets forth.’
His brother Prince Harry was at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London to review the Chelsea pensioners at the annual Founder’s Day Parade.
The parade commemorates King Charles II’s founding of the institution in 1681.
Founder’s Day is also known as Oak Apple Day referring to the oak tree that Charles hid in to avoid being captured by Parliamentary forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
Harry, a former Army officer, arrived wearing his Blues and Royals frock coat and like all the pensioners and guests wore a sprig of oak leaves in honour of Charles.
Trump and Macron chat as modern jets and Second World War-era aircraft flew over their heads as the world mourned those who died on D-Day
The French and American presidents, and their wives, watch the magnificent flypast over Omaha Beach and the Normandy American Cemetery where 2,000 Americans are buried
Fench President’s wife Brigitte Macron, French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump walk together to visit war graves
The VIPs also waved and posed for photos by the graves of the men who lost their lives on D-Day and the following dats
U.S. President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron embrace a U.S war veteran at a ceremony above Omaha Beach
Mr Trump and his First Lady stand to attention on the fourth day of their visit to Europe – having spent three days in the UK
Mr Trump stood alongside American D-Day survivors and their families, who were visibly moved by the ceremony in Northern France
The President’s children Donald Jr (left) and Eric (right) were also at the poignant ceremony with their father today
Mr Trump smiled and chatted to his countrymen as he signed items for them ahead of today’s D-Day 75 commemorations
French President Macron waves to crowds alongside President Trump and his wife Brigitte in front of seated veterans and their relatives
Mr Trump stood as he listened to the French and American national anthems followed by an armed forces parade
The President smiled as he was introduced and was given an ovation by the crows at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial
French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron clap Mr Trump and his wife Melania
A veteran looks at America’s commander-in-chief during a moving D-Day memorial service in northern France today
Donald Trump toucheds the camp of an American WW2 veteran who fought in France and in the battles that saw Europe liberated a year later
Emmanuel Macron shakes the hands of former soldiers and Donald Trump pats another on the shoulder in Colleville-sur-Mer today
Brigitte Macron and First Lady Melania Trump looked sombre as they waled along the carpet followed by their husbands
A Canadian veteran is moved to tears during the international ceremony at Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, Normandy,
In the UK Prince William, third in line to the throne, led the commemorative service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire,
A veteran reacts with tears during a service at the National Memorial Arboretum led by Prince William
Veteran James Ockendon dries his eyes during the service at the D-Day Stone in Portsmouth this morning
A man stands in front of a wall of the fallen at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today
William’s brother Harry saluted in the rain as the Royal Hospital Chelsea remembered those who fought and fell 75 years ago today
Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, reviews the Chelsea Pensioners in the rain at the annual Founder’s Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, in London
Chelsea Pensioners wait to meet the Duke of Sussex, who was there without his wife Meghan, who is caring for their baby Archie at home
D-Day veterans (left to right) Arthur Barnes, John Connelly, Nev Lees and Bob Jones from Blind Veterans UK salute on board HMS Belfast in London today
Trump’s tribute to the men who ‘saved civilisation’
This is President Trump’s speech to veterans gathered at Omaha Beach today.
He said ‘We are gathered here on Freedom’s Altar. On these shores, on these bluffs, on this day 75 years ago, ten thousand men shed their blood-and thousands sacrificed their lives-for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty.
‘Today, we remember those who fell here, and we honor all who fought here. They won back this ground for civilization.
‘The enemy who occupied these heights saw the largest naval armada in history on the horizon. Just a few miles offshore were 7,000 vessels bearing 130,000 warriors. They were the citizens of free and independent nations, united by their duty to their compatriots and to millions yet unborn.
‘To all of our friends and partners – our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable.
‘The exceptional MIGHT came from an exceptional SPIRIT. The abundance of courage came from an abundance of faith. The great deeds of our Army came from the great depths of their love.
Members of the public in Arromanches, Gold Beach, queued up to thank D-Day veterans for their service during the Second World War.
Sid Barnes, 93, from Norfolk, served in the Royal Army Service Corps and landed on beach by Arromanches on June 6.
He returns every year to the town and attends commemoration events.
This year visitors were coming up to him to shake his hand, with one man saying: ‘Without you and everything you and the other veterans did, we would not be here.’
Mr Barnes said: ‘People are coming up to us to say thank you. But I think ‘thank you for what?’
‘We just did what we knew we must do. It is nice to know we are valued though.’
He was enjoying the sunshine on the promenade with other veterans including Charles Burton, 94, who came over to Normandy as part of a wave of troops on the second day June 7 with the Royal Ulster Rifles.
Mr Burton said: ‘It’s nice to take part to be here but it’s very difficult as you remember the others who died.’
Mrs May then travelled to Bayeux Cathedral to join up with Prince Charles for a memorial service.
At the start of the service, a message on behalf of Pope Francis was read by Cardinal Marc Ouellet.
He said D-Day was ‘decisive in the fight against Nazi barbarism’ and paid tribute to those who ‘joined the Army and gave their lives for freedom and peace’.
D-Day veteran Kenneth Hay read from the poem Normandy, by Cyril Crain, who also took part in the Allied invasion.
Mr Hay’s reading began: ‘Come and stand in memory of men who fought and died.
‘They gave their lives in Normandy, remember them with pride.’
Crain landed at Juno Beach in June 1944, four days before his 21st birthday. He died in 2014, aged 91.
Bagpipers lead a procession of British World War II veterans to the Bayeux War Cemetery after a cathedral service
The Prince of Wales and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, leave Bayeux Cathedral followed by Theresa May as the couple represent the Queen in France today
Alan Litchfield, who was a Royal Marine coxswain on a landing craft during D-Day, inspects the graves of his comrades at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, in Bayeux, France
D-Day veteran Tony Cash (L) walks with friends ahead of a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral
Outgoing Tory leader Theresa May represented the Government in France and was supported by her Secretary of State for Defence, Penny Mourdaunt
Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger looks on as veterans lower the Union Flag as they pay their respect to those who lost their lives in 1944
Around 300 British veterans who fought and survived D-Day were at the Service of Remembrance having been taken to France on a cruise ship chartered by the Royal British Legion
Two sombre British veterans are pushed in wheelchairs by serving members of the Armed Forces as they gathered to commemorate The Longest Day
WW2 re-enactors talk to D-Day veterans and ask about their experiences as they gather in Arromanches, Normandy
The silhouette of a soldier holding the British flag on the beach of Arromanches, better known as Gold Beach, where commemorations began today
Guests attend a French/US ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, above Omaha Beach
The MV Boudicca cruise ship was chartered by the Royal British Legion to carry the 300 British D-Day veterans who landed in France 74 years ago today. The vessel was flanked and followed by Royal Navy ships as it crossed the Channel
Theresa May’s D-Day speech in full
Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech at Ver-Sur-Mer in France today
Here is the text of the speech delivered by Prime Minister Theresa May alongside French President Emmanuel Macron at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial.
She said: ‘Thank you President Macron for your support to ensure a lasting monument to the service and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Normandy – something which means so much to our veteran community and to the whole of the British nation.
‘It is incredibly moving to be here today, looking out across beaches where one of the greatest battles for freedom this world has ever known took place – and it is truly humbling to do so with the men who were there that day.
‘It is an honour for all of us to share this moment with you.
‘Standing here, as the waves wash quietly onto the shore, it’s almost impossible to grasp the raw courage that it must have taken that day to leap out from landing craft and into the surf – despite the fury of battle.
‘No one could be certain what June 6 would bring. No one would know how this – the most ambitious – amphibious and airborne assault in all of human history, would turn out.
‘And, as the sun rose that morning, not one of the troops on the landing craft approaching these shores, not one of the pilots in the skies above, not one of the sailors at sea – knew whether they would still be alive when it set once again.
‘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.
‘More than 156,000 men landed on D-Day – of which 83,000 were from Britain and the Commonwealth.
‘Over a quarter million more supported operations from air and sea – while the French Resistance carried out extraordinary acts of bravery behind enemy lines. Many were terribly wounded.
‘And many more made the ultimate sacrifice that day and in the fierce fighting that followed, as together our allied nations sought to release Europe from the grip of fascism.
‘Men like Lieutenant Den Brotheridge of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Twenty-eight years old. Husband. Father-to-be. Thought to be the first Allied soldier to be killed in action after leading the charge over Pegasus Bridge.
‘Marine Commando Robert Casson of 46 Royal Marine Commando, who was killed on the approach to Juno Beach, three weeks before his brother Private Joseph Casson was also killed in Normandy.
‘And twins Robert and Charles Guy, 21, who both served in the RAF and were shot down and buried separately. Their names will now be reunited here.
‘These young men belonged to a very special generation, the greatest generation.
‘A generation whose unconquerable spirit shaped the post-war world. They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served.
‘And they laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world.
‘The memorial that will be built here will remind us of this. Of the service and sacrifice of those who fell under British Command in Normandy, of the price paid by French civilians – and of our duty, and our responsibility, to now carry the torch for freedom, for peace and for democracy.
‘I want to thank all those involved in this memorial. George Batts and the veterans who have campaigned so hard to make it happen. The people of Ver-sur-Mer, and Phillipe Onillon the town’s mayor.
‘Here in Normandy, the names of those British men and women who gave their lives in defence of freedom, will forever sit opposite their homeland across the Channel.
‘Here in Normandy, we will always remember their courage, their commitment, their conviction.
‘And to our veterans, here in Normandy, I want to say the only words we can: thank you.’
Dignitaries will laid memorial wreaths and the last post will be played at the site where more than 4,000 war dead are buried.
Nearby, in the town of Arromanches, around 300 veterans have gathered to commemorate their fallen comrades.
The Prince of Wales wore a number of military medals at the D-Day commemorative service.
They include: the Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand, the Canadian Forces decoration, the New Zealand commemorative medal, the long service good conduct medal, and medals marking the Queen’s coronation and jubilees.
The Duchess of Cornwall wore a pale gold coat dress by Dior, a hat by Philip Treacy and her 4th Rifles bugle brooch.
Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron laid wreaths at the foundation stone of the new British monument above Gold Beach.
They were joined by Prime Minister Theresa May, and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for the commemoration marking 75 years since D-Day.
At Gold this morning at 6.26am (UK time) Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), performed Highland Laddie on Port Winston – the remains of one of the temporary Mulberry harbour constructed for the Allied landings. British troops launched themselves on to Sword beach at 6.30am.
Americans were the first to launch the D-Day assault with simultaneous attacks at Utah and Omaha beaches at 5.30am, while the Canadians landed at Juno at 6.35am.
It begins another day of commemorations, which will see veterans descending on the town square of Arromanches as part of a parade that will be followed by a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display.
Across the Channel, a service of remembrance and wreath laying takes place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
Theresa May was at the inauguration ceremony in France on the 75th anniversary of D-Day in what will be one of her final official engagements as Conservative leader.
She 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.
‘And it is truly humbling to do so with the men who were there that day. It’s an honour for all of us to share this moment with you.’
The Prime Minister was joined by French President Emmanuel Macron at Ver-Sur-Mer in Normandy at a ceremony marking the creation of the British Normandy Memorial.
Addressing the audience, President Macron said: ‘I am honoured to stand alongside Theresa May today to launch construction work for the British memorial at Ver-sur-Mer.
‘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.’
He added: ‘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.
He said: ‘Nothing will break them. Nothing can ever break ties that have been bound in bloodshed and shared values.
‘The debates taking place today cannot affect the strength of our joint history and our shared future.’
President Macron assured Mrs May of his friendship, adding: ‘Leaders may come and go but their achievements remain.
‘The force of our friendship will outlast current events.’
Chaplain General Clinton Langston opened the ceremony giving thanks to those who served in the campaign from June 5 to August 31 1944.
He said: ‘It is only right and proper that their sacrifice and service is acknowledged and commemorated here as we gather to inaugurate the site of this British Normandy Memorial.’
Normandy veteran and patron of The Normandy Trust George Batts told the crowd: ‘They were the soldiers of democracy.
‘They were the men of D-Day and to them we owe our freedom.’
In Portsmouth, following President Donald Trump’s visit yesterday, a veteran’s parade took before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone.
And in London, the Duke of Sussex attended Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he will see the Chelsea Pensioners and six veterans from the Normandy Landings.
Paratroopers aged in their 90s jumped from Dakota war planes over Normandy yesterday afternoon as they re-enacted the bravery of soldiers who were central to the decisive landings.
About 280 took part in the jump over the French coast yesterday, including veterans of landings in World War II. Harry Read, 95, was pictured leaping from the skies and landing in Sannerville in front of crowds of admirers.
Aircraft were pictured taking to the skies in Cambridgeshire, at the Imperial War Museum, before heading to France to commemorate those who died in the fighting on June 6 1944.
Donald Trump and First Lady Melania land in Normandy and headed for Omaha Beach where tens of thousands of Americans landed 75 years ago today
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump make their way to board Air Force One at Shannon Airport in Ireland as they head for Normandy
Mr Trump shared this moving message as he headed to France to remember The Longest Day – D-Day
The Prince of Wales greets Prime Minister Theresa May as he arrives for the Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance
Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the thousands who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the fight to free Europe from Hitler’s tyranny
Mrs May glances at veterans who gathered to remember their comrades who laid down their lives on the beaches of Normandy
A moved Theresa May is comforted by Emmanuel Macron at a ceremony above Gold beach, where the first British troops arrived to fight to free Europe in 1944
The two world leaders stare out on to Gold Beach – which 75 years ago today would have been at the centre of one of the most violent battles the world had ever known
A new memorial, which overlooks Gold Beach, records the names of more than 20,000 British servicemen who died in the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy. It depicts three soldiers advancing across the beach
US veteran Kirt Robbins pays his respects at dawn on the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings at the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, above Omaha Beach
Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron greeted one another warmly and Mr Macron said he was honoured to stand side-by-side with the British
President Macron and Prime Minister May stand in the shadow of the Union Flag that was raised at 6.26am – the minute British troops arrived
Veterans and their families arrive at Bayeux Cathedral, France, for the Royal British Legion Service of Remembrance
Soldiers from The Rifles and the Army Air Corps also gathered at the iconic World War II site of Pegasus Bridge to commemorate the actions of their predecessors, The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and Glider Pilot Regiment, 75 years ago
Military vehicles line the beach at Arromanches in Normandy, northern France, ahead of a day of events to mark the 75 anniversary of D-Day
The Union Flag flies outside the Cathedral of Bayeux in Normandy today – 75 years to the day that the Allies launched the greatest invasion in history
British D-Day memorial to 22,442 who died in Normandy is unveiled at poignant ceremony
Normandy veterans today paid an emotional tribute to their fallen comrades at a new memorial unveiled on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The veterans were joined by Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron at Ver-sur-Mer in France for the unveiling of the monument.
Mr Macron and Mrs May lay a wreath of flowers during a ceremony to lay the first stone at Ver-sur-Mer in France today
Mrs May has paid tribute to those who raised funds for the British Normandy Memorial which she said will ensure ‘the legacy of those who died lives on’.
Thousands of Daily Mail readers donated money towards the monument which overlooks Gold Beach, where British troops stormed ashore on June 6, 1944.
The spectacular memorial lists the names of all 22,442 members of the fallen British servicemen and women who died in the Normandy campaign that year.
Patrick Moore from Kent, a veteran of the Royal Engineers, stands next to the new British Normandy Memorial today
Mrs May and Mr Macron laid wreaths at the foundation stone of the monument, while seven British D-Day veterans were accompanied by four children to lay flowers.
Sir Winston Churchill’s great-great grandson John Churchill was among those looking at the sculpture depicting three British soldiers storming the beaches.
The bronze sculpture was created by David Williams-Ellis to mark the beginning of construction for the memorial, which is expected to be completed within a year.
Standing 9ft tall and weighing several tons, the three figures are not based on any individuals and deliberately carry no legible regimental markings or insignia.
The ceremony concluded with a piped lament from Trooper Kurtis Rankin of The Royal Dragoon Guards. Mrs May and Mr Macron then spoke to the veterans.
Mrs May 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.’
Their display brought to life the daring efforts of Allied troops, who secured the first step on the road to defeating the Nazis with the offensive.
Tearful veterans gathered in Portsmouth, Duxford and Normandy as Queen Elizabeth II and US President Donald Trump hailed the bravery of those on the front line.
British paratroopers jumped after American veterans did the same earlier yesterday, with one making the leap aged 97. Ex 82nd Airborne paratrooper Tom Rice, from San Diego, California, was among some 200 parachutists who filled the Normandy skies of France for the 75th anniversary of the invasion as they leapt from vintage C-47 Dakota planes in what was a moving sight.
Mr Rice jumped in a tandem into roughly the same area he landed in on D-Day near Carentan, a town among the main targets for the paratroopers. He said: ‘It went perfect, perfect jump. I feel great. I’d go up and do it all again.’
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.
Veterans and their families gathered for a service of remembrance at Bayeux Cathedral.
Yesterday, the only surviving member of the unit behind the daring Pegasus Bridge operation which paved the way for the D-Day landings yesterday paid an emotional tribute to his fallen comrades.
Reg Charles, 96, is the last surviving member of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry which helped to secure two key bridges in Normandy, just hours before the Allied beach assault on June 6, 1944.
Some 18 men died in the raid codenamed Operation Deadstick, which aimed to land six Horsa gliders near two small bridges over the River Orne and Caen Canal in northern France, capturing them from the Germans.
Mr Charles, who lives in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, arrived a few days after the glider invasion itself, but is the last surviving member of the unit. Today, he proudly saluted during a ceremony at the Pegasus Bridge Museum.
The last surviving officer to have actually served in the operation – which has been hailed as ‘the single most important ten minutes of the war’ – was Colonel David Wood, who died in 2009 aged 85.
Other veterans yesterday spoke of their pride at attending the D-Day 75th anniversary event in Portsmouth along with world leaders, describing it as an emotional chance to remember their comrades who did not return.
The 300 veterans were joined by more than 4,000 personnel involved in D-Day events in the UK and France yesterday in what is one of the biggest mobilisations of the UK Armed Forces in recent history.
Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), performed at early morning rendition of Highland Laddie on Port Winston – the remains of one of the temporary Mulberry harbour constructed for the landings
The tribute began at 6.26am today – the exact moment the first British boots touched the beach to confront the German defenders
A new British memorial has been unveiled at a a Franco-British ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day landings Ver-Sur-Mer, Normandy, overlooking Gold beach
May and Macron walk in the Normandy sunshine – 75 years ago the brave D-Day soldiers fought their way into France in much poorer conditions
Theresa May arrives in Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach, where the first British attack came 75 years ago today
How D-Day unfolded 75 years ago today
June 6, 1944 – D-Day
– 01.30-2.00am – Allied combined bombardment and assault fleets arrive and anchor off the French coast.
– 3.30am – Sainte Mere Eglise is liberated by Americans – who hoist the US flag at the town hall – and roads leading up to Utah Beach are closed.
– 4am – Britain’s 9th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, helps destroy weapons at the Merville Battery to protect troops who will land at Sword Beach.
– 4.30am– Allied warships begin bombarding the Normandy coastline. Landing ships and landing craft head for shore.
– 5am – Bombers pound the German shore defences. More than 5,300 tonnes of bombs are dropped.
– 5.30am– American forces begin landing on Omaha Beach and face a devastating enemy onslaught which pins them there until 1100.
– 5.30am – Americans troops begin landing on Utah Beach.
– 6.10am – US 2nd Army Ranger Battalion attacks 100ft high fortified cliff the Pointe du Hoc, defending it for the rest of the day.
– 6.25am – British land at Gold and Sword Beaches.
– 6.35am – Canadians land at Juno Beach.
– 8am – General Eisenhower authorises release of communique announcing the invasion has begun and General Bradley calls for reinforcements.
– 8.45am – Enemy forces cleared from Utah Beach.
-11am – Winston Churchill speaks to the House of Commons about the landings, saying: ‘So far the commanders who are engaged report that everything is proceeding according to plan. And what a plan!’
– 12.30pm – Troops on Omaha Beach begin securing the area. Allied forces begin to bomb the town of Caen with 160 tonnes of bombs dropped.
– 1.30pm – The Nazi’s 21st Panzer Division unleash a counter-attack towards the coast.
– 3pm – The British arrive at Arromanches.
– 5pm– Some of the 3rd Canadian Division, North Nova Scotia Highlanders reach 5km inland. 1st Hussar tanks cross the Caen-Bayeux railway, 15km inland. Canadian Scottish link up with the 50th Division at Creully.
– 6pm – Command post set up on Omaha Beach.
– 7pm Allied patrols at the outskirts of Bayeux.
– 10pm – King George VI address is broadcast. He says it is a ‘fight to win the final victory for the good cause’.
There was a flypast by RAF warplanes past and present, including a display by the Red Arrows and Spitfires.
Other events included a ceremony at Pegasus Bridge in France – the scene of a 15-minute skirmish to take hold of the pathways over the Caen Canal and River Orne, and one of the first places British troops liberated on D-Day.
This was attended by D-Day veterans including Reg Charles, 96, the last surviving member of a heroic glider assault on the bridge.
The event also saw four veterans receive the Legion d’Honneur – radio operator Marie Scott, 92, RAF flight lieutenant Donald Mason, 98, Alfred Nutbein, 93, and Len Trewin, of 8th Battalion, Parachute Regiment.
Yesterday, veterans Harry Read, 95, and John Hutton, 94, will parachute into Normandy in honour of comrades they lost when they first made the descent 75 years ago onto fields at Sannerville.
They will follow US Second World War paratrooper veteran Tom Rice, 97, who served with the 101st Airbone, who landed safely yesterday following a commemorative parachute jump over Carentan on the Normandy coast.
In Portsmouth, Sergeant John Jenkins, 99, did a reading at the National Commemorative Event attended by the Queen, US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders of other involved nations.
The veteran received a standing ovation from the President and the Queen as he led tributes. Mr Jenkins, who is from Portsmouth, was serving with the Pioneer Corps on D-Day and landed on Gold Beach on June 8 in 1944.
He said: ‘Obviously I will think of all my mates that didn’t come back. I can’t say any particular one because we were all comrades together, that was the thing. We were all comrades together and that’s what carries us through.
‘The comradeship was really something quite marvellous.’ Mr Jenkins said he felt ‘overwhelmed’ to be at the service and to be chosen to do a reading. ‘It is something that will last in my memory for a long time,’ he said.
He added: ‘I was terrified. I think everyone was – you don’t show it, but it’s there. I look back on it as a big part of my life, it changed me in a way – but I was just a small part in a very big machine.
‘You never forget your comrades because we were all in there together. It’s right that the courage and sacrifice of so many veterans is being honoured 75 years on.
‘We must never forget – thank you.’ His words moved many other veterans and attendees to tears during the service.’
After the war Mr Jenkins worked as a bus driver then as a crane operator at the Portsmouth naval base.
Proud of his country and being a dedicated to his service, he went on to serve in the Territorial Army for many years, rising to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.
He is a lifelong Portsmouth fan and recently said that one message he would give to the generation of tomorrow is for there to be ‘no more wars’.
This morning’s tribute begins another day of commemorations, which will see veterans descending on the town square of Arromanches as part of a parade that will be followed by a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display
Reenactors dressed in military uniform carry a Union flag at dawn on the beach at Arromanches in Normandy to watch the piper this morning
Arromanches – where these reenactors are pictured this morning – will be a focal point for continuing D-Day commemorations today
French WWII enthousiast Damien Tracou with a rifle on the shoulders, looks the sun rises today on Utah Beach in Sainte-Marie-du-Mont, northwestern France
Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie walking along Gold Beach towards Port Winston five minutes before this morning’s moving tribute
The commemorations yesterday: Veterans leap from planes over Normandy as they recreate the D-Day landings 75 years after they were carried out
The original leap from the skies over Normandy as part of Operation Overlord, which was the first step on road to victory for the Allies in World War II
Hundreds of paratroopers drop from the sky over France as veterans parachuted onto the Normandy coast to commemorate the D-Day landings
Harry Read lands in Sannerville, France, as crowds gather to watch today’s moving commemoration of the decisive D-Day landings in Normandy yesterday
The memorial in Portsmouth featured an hour-long production telling the story of the invasion and a spectacular
Arthur Hampson, 93, from Merseyside, was a midshipman with the Royal Navy on D-Day, landing on Juno Beach. ‘As the ramp went down, there was quite a lot of fire coming at us from the shore,’ he said.
‘We could see the red flashes coming from houses that the Germans were in on the waterfront. We were popping at the window where we could see that the enemy was shooting at us.’
He described the service as a ‘great experience’ but said he did not regard himself as a hero.
Mr Hampson said that after D-Day, he returned to Portsmouth. ‘I was having a quiet pint in a pub in Southsea,’ he said.
‘The past 24 hours seemed unreal. We were talking to people in the pub and I think they didn’t believe a word we were saying.’
Veterans who survived D-Day were guests of honour at today’s commemorations in Portsmouth attended by world leaders
A veteran of the 6th Airborne Division puts his head in his hands during a ceremony at Pegasus Bridge in France yesterday
The Portsmouth memorial yesterday featured a flypast by RAF warplanes past and present, including a display by the Red Arrows
The Red Arrows flypast takes place, watched by attendees of the 75th anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth yesterday
The Red Arrows fly over Portsmouth in 9 Arrow Formation in Portsmouth yesterday. This photo was taken from Red 8’s aircraft
D-Day veteran John Jenkins (pictured above) on stage at the commemorations at Southsea Common in Portsmouth yesterday
D-Day veteran, 95, who arrived first on Sword Beach after his landing craft took a direct hit is reunited with a white ensign 75 years later
Signalman Frank Baugh is reunited with the white ensign which was hoisted on Queen Red Sector of Sword Beach in June 1994
A 95-year-old war veteran who landed on Sword Beach 75 years ago was yesterday reunited with a white ensign that had been hoisted to establish a beachhead.
Signalman Frank Baugh landed on the Queen Red sector in Normandy during the Second World War as part of the D-Day invasions at 7.25am on June 6, 1944.
He was serving with the Royal Navy on landing craft LCI(L)380, part of Flotilla 253 which carried members of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, 2nd Batallion.
They were the first craft to land on the sector and took a direct hit from Nazi fire on their approach – but by 8am, the flag had been hoisted on the sand.
Mr Baugh, who now lives in Doncaster, told the Yorkshire Post this week of his arrival at Sword Beach: ‘We found it empty. We were the first landing craft on that section of that beach and that’s not a good place to be in the front.’
The veteran did not return to Normandy for 65 years after the invasion, saying: ‘On D-Day, I never expected living the next hour, never mind to 95.’
He added: ‘The beach was littered with lads who had been killed. It’s an awful feeling. You’re frightened. But you do your job. You have to do it and you don’t want to let your pals down.’
Les Hammond, 94, from Northampton, a craftsman in the 86 Anti-tank Regiment, who was 19 when he landed on Juno Beach, said: ‘It’s quite emotional I suppose, I didn’t think I would feel like this but I do.
‘I am very much a royalist and I am proud of my country. I intend to live a few more years and have nice memories of today.’
Alfred Fuzzard, 97, from Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex, a former petty officer in the Royal Navy who grew up in Portsmouth and who landed on Sword Beach, said: ‘I wouldn’t have missed D-Day for the world.
‘The weather was a bit rough when we went over but it calmed down when we got close to the beach.
‘I think it’s lovely, I am a fan of Trump actually, I would like to see him as prime minister of this country, shake the bunkers up.
‘Trump has been good for his people but the trouble is that before he opens his mouth, he should think. I would like to meet him because I will ask him if he’s immigrating.
‘I don’t know what lessons you can learn, it’s up to politicians, they drag us into wars don’t they.
‘We belong to a great nation and the finest fighting people in the world I think. I have seen some very brave men and it’s been wonderful here to meet all these old people and what they gave.
‘In an operation you only see your part, you don’t see what is going on around you whereas here you can hear other people’s stories and it’s been bloody marvellous.’
The elite bands of brothers who were the first troops into Normandy on D-Day
Operation Overlord saw some 156,000 Allied troops landing in Normandy on June 6, 1944.
It is thought as many as 4,400 were killed in an operation Winston Churchill described as ‘undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place’.
The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6.30am.
The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved.
The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved.
The landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
The assault was chaotic with boats arriving at the wrong point and others getting into difficulties in the water.
Destruction in the northern French town of Carentan after the invasion in June 1944
Troops managed only to gain a small foothold on the beach – but they built on their initial breakthrough in the coming days and a harbour was opened at Omaha.
They met strong resistance from the German forces who were stationed at strongpoints along the coastline.
Approximately 10,000 allies were injured or killed, inlcuding 6,603 American, of which 2,499 were fatal.
Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed – and it proved the pivotal moment of the war, in the allied forces’ favour.
The first wave of troops from the US Army takes cover under the fire of Nazi guns in 1944
‘Don’t say I’m a hero, all the heroes are dead’: Royal Engineers sapper who stormed ashore in the first wave at Gold Beach in emotional tribute to his fallen comrades on D-Day 75th anniversary
A 93-year-old D-Day veteran who raised thousands of pounds for a memorial in Normandy insisted today the real heroes were his fallen comrades 75 years ago.
Harry Billinge, of St Austell, Cornwall, was an 18-year-old Royal Engineers sapper when he landed on Gold Beach as part of the first wave of troops to arrive in France.
In recent years he has raised more than £10,000 for the Normandy Memorial Trust to build a monument to the dead by relentlessly collecting donations near his house.
Harry Billinge stands together with other D-Day veterans at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site at Ver-sur-Mer in France this morning
And in an emotional interview with BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty this morning, Mr Billinge told her: ‘I’m very sorry I’m getting a bit choked.
‘Don’t thank me, and don’t say I’m a hero. I’m no hero, I was lucky. I’m here. All the heroes are dead, and I’ll never forget them as long as I live.’
Mr Billinge, who made a final pilgrimage to Normandy today, spoke about his traumatic experience after landing on the beaches at 6.30am on June 6, 1944.
The soldier landed along with about 600 other men from the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers, the only Welsh battalion to take part in the landings.
Harry Billinge, 93, insisted he was ‘no hero’ in an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning
The D-Day veteran gave in an emotional interview to BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty
How Harry Billinge’s unit was the only Welsh battalion to take part in the D-Day landings
Harry Billinge was a Royal Engineer with the 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers – the only Welsh battalion to take part in the D-Day landings.
The Borderers were founded in 1689 and were known as the 24th Regiment of Foot until 1881. Their most famous moment came when they won 11 Victoria Crosses in one day at Rorke’s Drift during the Zulu War in the 1870s.
But by 1944 the Borderers spent three months training for the landings.
On the eve of the invasion, many men are said to have asked to see their parents before sailing as they thought it would be for the last time.
However their Commanding Officer threatened deserters with hanging and urged them to show courage.
The crossing was very choppy, with one soldier saying: ‘The flat bottomed boats were all over the place. I have never felt so ill in all my life.
‘As day broke, everyone came up on deck to see the Normandy coast hove into view. The cliff edges were wreathed in smoke and dust. To our far right much heavier fire seemed to be occurring on Omaha beach’.
The battalion landed at Gold Beach with about 600 men under command of 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division at 6.30am on June 6, 1944.
Sergeant Dick Philips, who was in the unit, said: ‘When we landed there was a lot of shelling and it was a bit hairy.
‘As we were leaving the beach there was a chappie going up the bank and a shell exploded at his feet in the sand and we saw his body coming toward us in the air.
‘Further on there was a farmhouse surrounded by a high wall with double gates, and an elderly lady was outside jumping up and down, clapping her hands at all these fellows leaving the beach.’
Among the battalion’s completed objectives on the way to Vaux-sur-Aure was to capture a German radio direction finding station near Pouligny.
The men advanced the furthest on D-Day out of all the British units, and they lost just four men – two by mortar fire and two from sniper fire.
The South Wales Borderers were absorbed into the Royal Regiment of Wales in 1969.
He said: ‘When I landed it was hell. You cannot put words to D-Day. Whatever I told you would be a load of rubbish because I’d never seen anything like it in my life.
‘You had the ships firing over your head, and you had the Germans firing at you from inland – 88mm guns they used, which would blow you off the face of the earth.
‘All the mines and that were taken away by fail tanks that was caused a Hobart’s Funny. They cleared certain paths to get the men off the beach as quick as possible.
‘There was a beachmaster. One bloke I knew was an SAS bloke. They were saying ‘get everybody off the beach’. And a lot of poor fellas never got out of the sea.’
Asked what he was told before landing, Mr Billinge added: ‘Keep your head down. They didn’t tell you anything. Just get on. You know what it was going to be.’
He spent two years in hospital where a consultant tried to help him forget the horrors, but he said: ‘I’ve got such a vivid memory, they couldn’t help me at all.’
Mr Billinge also told how his family was heavily involved in the military, with his father becoming a soldier in 1905 with the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire).
He has worked to raise funds for the memorial which will honour 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy.
Mr Billinge laid a wreath today as part of the inauguration event attended by Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron at Ver-sur-Mer.
A sculpture created by David Williams-Ellis was unveiled during the event, marking the beginning of construction – which is anticipated to be completed within a year.
The memorial will include a roll of honour of the names of 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy.
He said the funraising was ‘more important than anything I’ve ever done in my life’, adding: ‘I knew a lot of good men, all lovely young men, who are not here, who paid the sacrifice. They went the whole way.
‘Walked the seven mile, and then another mile after that. I can’t explain. All I know is Normandy veterans love one another beyond the love of women.
‘If you was in a whole in a ground with a bloke, you got to know him. My generation saved the world, and I’ll never forget any of them.’
Asked about how he was felling this morning, Mr Billinge said he was ‘tired, weary and very sad’, adding: ‘Remembering everything – I can’t forget.’
At the end of the interview, Munchetty was forced to pause as she tried to control her emotions before handing over to a fellow presenter in another location.
His fundraising is particularly driven by the memory of the horrific moment he saw his friend Lance Corporal Joseph Neades killed in action in front of him.
Prime Minister Theresa May speaks with D-Day veterans including Mr Billinge (far left) at the inauguration of the British Normandy Memorial site at Ver-sur-Mer in France this morning
Veteran Mr Billinge returns to Gold Beach in 2018, 74 years after landing on D-Day in 1944
The proud Cockney, who grew up in Petts Wood in Kent, has been in Cornwall for 70 years after being advised to leave London for a better quality of life.
He set up shop as a barber and became president of the local clubs for the Royal British Legion and Royal Engineers.
His fundraising fame has even spread to the continent, which he visits every year to carry on his collections while making his annual pilgrimage to the cemeteries of Normandy.
Mr Billinge will be spending his free time this week collecting as usual in Arromanches – only this time with a giant banner. And he plans to continue fundraising in St Austell when he returns home.
Mr Billinge has managed to raise more than £10,000 for the Normandy Memorial Trust by relentlessly collecting donations in St Austell high street near his home in Cornwall
As an 18-year-old Royal Engineers soldier, he landed on Gold Beach at 6.30am on D-Day
Veterans suggested the monument because – while there are cemeteries – there is no national memorial combining the names of all those who died under British command in Normandy.
The Government has provided a £20million grant and the trust is hoping to raise a further £9 million through its 22,442 Sacrifice For Freedom campaign.
The Prince of Wales is a royal patron and the great grandson of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, has also backed the plans.
The youngest known D-Day veteran, Jim Radford, 90, has released a charity single, The Shores Of Normandy, to also help raise funds for the campaign.
‘5.27 and Navy went in… Savage fighting in streets’: How the Daily Mail revealed the D-Day assault, hailing it as ‘the first historic day of Europe’s liberation
The Daily Mail was on the front line with Allied troops as they stormed Normandy’s beaches to begin the liberation of Europe 75 years ago.
After a strict silence in the run-up to Operation Overlord, the newspaper was packed with details of the latest news from France which was lapped up by the voracious readers at home desperate to keep up with events.
News of the Allied invasion could finally be reported on June 7 1944, with the 5.27am arrival of the British on French shores coming too late for the June 6 edition.
During the first week of the invasion the Daily Mail was emblazoned with emotive headlines that described ‘savage fighting’ in the streets of Caen and vivid first-hand accounts from correspondents on the front line.
After reports of ‘flying over the beaches at dawn’ came news that Bayeux had been the first French town to be liberated from the Nazis.
The paper was covered in battle pictures with graphics and maps detailing the troops’ heroic road to Paris, before the first pictures of injured British soldiers to return to Blighty were published.
Here MailOnline looks back at how the Daily Mail reported on some of the most violent battles of the Second World War from June 7 to 10 1944 and from Fleet Street to France.
Wednesday June 7, 1944: BEACHHEAD WIDER AND DEEPER
The Daily Mail’s front page the day after D-Day was incredibly optimistic, with the splash declaring the ‘first historic day of Europe’s liberation has gone completely in favour of the Allies’. The page also featured stories from reporter Desmond Tighe aboard a British destroyer, and the lack of raids on Britain overnight. Not everything was dedicated to World War Two stories – the paper also revealed that more rail and bus cuts were on the way
Alexander Clifford explained that the Allied’s fight will be made easier in that France’s landscape is similar to England’s in this page 2 story on June 7, while a cartoon of a soldier is captioned ‘Yes, Adolf; this is it!’
Page 3 on June 7 also focused heavily on the war effort, featuring a number of photos from the front line including a group of soldiers applying warpaint. The page also detailed King George VI’s broadcast to the nation from the evening before, in which he said ‘this time the challenge is not to fight to survive but to fight to win the final victory for the good cause’
Page 4 of the Daily Mail on June 7 featured a map showing the main Allied landing points and the route to Paris as troops fought to free Europe. There was also news of orders given to French soldiers by General Charles de Gaulle, alongside adverts for Johnnie Walker whisky and beef stock cubes
This front page story from June 7 reported General Montgomery’s stirring message to his troops in the final BBC war report before they went to battle
Thursday June 8, 1944: BAYEUX IS CAPTURED – OFFICIAL
The Daily Mail’s coverage on June 8 focused on the capture of Bayeux – the first large town to be taken by the Allies. The front page also mentioned President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s pact with the Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French in exile
Page 2 featured an explanation of how injured troops were transported from the frontlines back to Blighty – including a handy diagram of the various stages from the field dressing station to the forward general hospital. The page also tells of the RAFs secret weapons being used in the ‘greatest aerial bombardment in the world’s history’ – as the ‘accuracy achieved far exceeds what would be possible relying entirely on human skill’
Page 3 detailed plans for after the war, with new factories being placed in ‘development areas’ across the country to secure ‘full employment’. The Birthday Honours list is also discussed – with Professors Alexander Fleming and H.W. Florey included for developing the ”wonder’ drug penicillin’ which ‘will save the lives of thousands of men fighting now’
The appetite for first-hand accounts from the beaches was in high demand at the Daily Mail on June 8, with ‘scores of war correspondents’ painting a complete picture of D-Day, with one report saying ‘the enemy knew nothing till the paratroops landed’. James McGlincy filed an interview with Bert Brandt, a news photographer, who spent 30 minutes on the group and hours afterwards ‘within gunshot of the scene’. Brandt said: ‘It was hotter than hell over there. I was at Anzio, but Anzio was nothing like this’
This page 3 story from June 8 describes the return of Navy boats to British ports after being used to deliver troops on D-Day
Friday June 9, 1944: ALLIES FIVE MILES BEYOND BAYEUX
June 9’s Daily Mail front page centred around the inland progress the Allied forces were making, who were now five miles beyond Bayeux. The Mail reported that bad weather conditions had delayed British operations in France by 24 hours
Page 2 of the Mail’s edition from June 9 1944 offers a moving account headlined: ‘One face I shall never forgot’. A correspondent on board HMS Belfast recalls a rescue boat pulling up alongside the vessel in a desperate bid to save an injured British soldier. He described the soldier ‘trying to smile’ as crew battled to get him on board, he later had his legs amputated and then he died. Another report tells of how the Germans’ morale was given a ‘heavy jolt’ by news of the landings
Page 3 of the Mail’s June 9 edition carries pictures of the first wounded troops sent back to Britain after a reporter spoke to them at their bedsides. All five faces are smiling, one with a cigarette in his mouth. They claim the Allied invasion of Italy a year earlier was much worse than their time in France
The final page of the Mail’s June 9 edition carries a breathtaking account of a parachute drop on D-Day. In news from America, the paper reports how Francisco Franco’s Spain is described as a ‘dictatorship indebted to Hitler’
Page 3 of the edition on June 9 bore the faces of five wounded soldiers who were safely returned to Britain. From trooper George Hart, Private William Smith, leading coder Kenneth Gure, Midshipman Sebborn and Lieutenant Dick Peard (pictured left to right) there were smiles all round – and even time to smoke as a cigarette as they were photographed for the Mail
Saturday June 10, 1944: BIG BATTLE RAGING AT CARENTAN
The front page of the Daily Mail on June 10 1944 carried news of a huge battle at Carentan, which began on D-Day and lasted until June 13. Readers were told how that weekend would prove to be a critical period in the Allies’ progress as they waited for the German counter attack. There was also news of France’s General de Gaulle’s visit to see Roosevelt in Washington
Page 2 of the Mail’s June 9 1944 edition shows a map of Allied air targets from Normandy to Paris with the headline ‘We box in the enemy with bombs’. There is also a report from the Normandy commune of Bayeux, which had been liberated some 60 hours earlier. People in the area declared an unofficial holiday and put on their best clothes despite German planes still flying overhead
Page 3 of the Mail on June 10 1944 bore two contrasting images of a French village where residents were preparing to rise up and calling for their President General de Gaulle and another of an English village where German prisoners were being marched through the streets on their way to a prisoner of war camp. A smaller article told of how British soldiers were allowed to send letters and parcels to inform relatives they were about to go off and fight
Page 4 of the Mail on 10 June 1944 carried news of General Eisenhower’s message to the French. He reassured them the Allied forces would end Nazi tyranny. There was still news for racing tips for Ascot and an advert for a slimming remedy
The princes salute heroes of D-Day: William and Harry pay tribute to the fallen at commemorations in Britain
The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex have paid tribute to the heroes of D-Day at commemorations in Britain.
Prince Harry, 34, donned military uniform to attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, in London, where he met D-Day veterans and Chelsea Pensioners.
Meanwhile his brother Prince William, 36, delivered a speech to veterans and military personnel at a service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
The brothers, who both served in the Armed Forces, are leading services in the UK while their father Prince Charles, 70, joins world leaders for events in Normandy.
Prince Harry, 34, donned military uniform to attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, in London, where he met D-Day veterans and Chelsea Pensioners. The royal spent time chatting to Chelsea Pensioners, pictured
The Duke of Sussex represented the Royal Family at the event, which marks the founding of the Royal Hospital Chelsea. This year it coincides with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and veterans who served in the Normandy landings are taking part
Meanwhile his brother Prince William, 36, delivered a speech to veterans and military personnel at a service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire
The Duke of Cambridge holds a poppy wreath before laying it at the Normandy Campaign Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum today, left. Right, the Prince takes a moment to reflect during proceedings
Prince William laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum today
The Duke of Cambridge spoke to veterans and their family members on his way out of the National Memorial Arboretum
Prince Harry, a former Army officer, arrived wearing his Blues and Royals frock coat for the annual Founder’s Day parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
The parade commemorates King Charles II’s founding of the institution in 1681. This year D-Day veterans are taking part.
Prince Harry joined Pensioners in wearing a sprig of oak leaves in honour of Charles II, who hid under an oak tree to avoid being captured by Parliamentary forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651.
Meanwhile in Staffordshire William laid a wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial, along with dignitaries and veterans.
A personal message from the Duke of Cambridge, attached to the poppy wreath, read: ‘In memory of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We will remember them. William.’
The Duke of Sussex smiled as he shook hands with a Chelsea Pensioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London
The Duke of Sussex joined the Chelsea Pensioners for the annual Founder’s Day event at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
The Duke of Sussex reviews the Chelsea Pensioners at the annual Founder’s Day Parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. A group of guests were invited to observe the spectacle, pictured
Prince Harry, 34, arrived wearing his Blues and Royals frock coat for the annual Founder’s Day parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Right, the prince reviews the parade
The Duke of Sussex praised the spirit of the Chelsea Pensioners as he met them at the Royal Hospital Chelsea today
Prince Harry joined Pensioners in wearing a sprig of oak leaves (as seen left and right) in honour of Charles II, who hid under an oak tree to avoid being captured by Parliamentary forces after the Battle of Worcester in 1651
The prince acknowledged the 75th anniversary of D-Day while also celebrating the Pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
Harry saluted the Chelsea Pensioners as they took part in the annual Founder’s Day parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
The royal said he was ‘honoured’ to be the reviewing officer at the Royal Hospital Chelsea for the Founder’s Day parade
The Royal Hospital Chelsea Founder’s Day celebration is held annually. This year the prince also used the opportunity to pay tribute to those who fought in the D-Day landings. There were six D-Day veterans present at the event today
‘You’re seriously good fun to be around!’ Prince Harry’s light-hearted message to Chelsea Pensioners on D-Day
The Duke of Sussex paid tribute to the Chelsea Pensioners and acknowledged the 75th anniversary of D-Day
I am honoured to be at the Royal Hospital today as your reviewing officer once again, on this the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
Not only is today a prominent historical occasion, it is also a special day in the Royal Hospital calendar – bringing together families, old friends and the chance to make new ones.
Both your founder King Charles II, and Sir Christopher Wren himself would be delighted to know that the institution which opened its doors to the first Pensioners over 325 years ago, continues to fulfil its original purpose of giving exceptional care to soldiers in retirement.
They’d also be amused to hear about the late night cricket in the hallways! Much less the serenading by Colin, who I am told is Royal Variety standard, but let’s assume they haven’t seen your synchronised buggy drill quite yet!
Now I stand here before you to not only acknowledge the incredible contribution you have made to this nation but to acknowledge that you, my friends, are also seriously good fun to be around!
You will always stand out in your scarlet coats and white gloves, but to me, whether I see you at Westminster Abbey, the Chelsea Flower Show, Twickenham Stadium, or the pub, I notice that you are always smiling.
Don’t ever underestimate the joy that you bring to everyone you meet. You represent something really quite special, you are special, and society will always recognise that. That is an important part of your legacy.
Here, I see a community that continues to value the importance of teamwork which military service in particular can teach you.
It’s a community that focuses on supporting each other with kindness, respect and compassion, as well as reaching out to serve the wider community.
I have just visited the infirmary and seen the excellent facilities and care being provided to those pensioners who are unable to be on parade here today. No doubt they’re watching from the windows cheering you all on.
I think we should all be incredibly proud and grateful knowing that 46 of you here fought in the Second World War; many of you in other conflicts including Korea, Malaya, Borneo and that the ‘youngsters’ among you wear Northern Ireland, South Atlantic and First Gulf War Medals with pride.
On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, I can comfortably speak for everyone when I say we are honoured to be in the presence of six Normandy Landing veterans.
To all who are on parade today, I can only say that you are a constant reminder of the great debt we owe those who have served this nation.
You embody the fitting home that awaits them in the peace and tranquillity of the Royal Hospital, should they want it.
But more widely, wherever you are, your presence is a symbol of the sacrifices that have been made by all veterans to sustain the freedoms and democracy we value so deeply today.
Ladies and Gentleman, could I ask that those who are able to, please stand in recognition of our veterans. We stand together and remember those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
And for you here today, who have served us so greatly and with such honour, I congratulate you on the smartness of your turnout and the steadiness of your bearing. I thank you for inviting me here today and I wish you all the health and happiness you so richly deserve.
He also met some of those who served in the D-Day landings.
Among those attending is 100-year-old Pixie Jenkins, a former Wren in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.
In 1944, Mrs Jenkins helped drive troops and equipment to Newhaven Docks in East Sussex in the build-up to D-Day and throughout the Normandy landings.
The centenarian, from Aldridge, near Walsall, West Midlands, is among a handful of veterans who have been able to travel to the special service in Staffordshire.
Prince Harry shared a light-hearted moment with some of the Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, pictured
Chelsea Pensioners turned out in their military finery to meet the prince, pictured, and shook his hand as he past
In his speech, Prince Harry spoke of the fun and frivolity enjoyed by the Chelsea Pensioners, saying they are ‘seriously good fun to be around’. Pictured, the royal, 34, sharing a light-hearted moment with one of the Pensioners present
The Duke of Sussex remained in the UK to mark the important event at the Royal Hospital Chelsea while his father went to France
Harry smiled as he spoke to one Chelsea Pensioner who had taken a seat during proceedings at the Royal Hospital Chelsea
A small crowd gathered to watch the annual parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was reviewed by Prince Harry
The Duke of Sussex wished the Chelsea Pensioners ‘all the health and happiness you so richly deserve’ during his speech at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. Pictured, the royal arriving for the event today
The Chelsea Pensioners at the annual Founder’s Day parade at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, which was attended by Harry
Reflecting on the anniversary, she said: ‘I think the men that went over were wonderful and I hope the younger people today realise how fortunate they are to have people like that.
‘I think so many youngsters today have forgotten about the men. They look at them and think, ‘They’re old men now’ – to them they’re just old men. And they’re not, they are wonderful, wonderful men that went over. I salute them all.’
It is one of a number of commemorative events being held across France and the UK.
The Duke of Sussex will attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he will see the Chelsea Pensioners and six veterans from the Normandy Landings.
Meanwhile their father Prince Charles has joined world leaders for a day of remembrance in Normandy.
The Duke of Cambridge arriving the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire, for today’s D-Day commemoration
Prince William spoke at the commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum, and paid tribute to those who served
The Duke of Cambridge spent a moment in silent contemplation as he prepared to lay the wreath at the Normandy Campaign Memorial
Military personnel and veterans looked on as Prince William laid a wreath at the memorial to those who served at D-Day
Veterans also stepped forward to lay wreaths at the Staffordshire memorial in recognition of the fallen D-Day heroes
The Duke of Cambridge left the National Memorial Arboretum after attending the commemorations this morning
Charles was adorned in a number of military medals as he marked the Allied invasion on June 6 1944.
The decorations included: the Queen’s Service Order, New Zealand, the Canadian Forces decoration, the New Zealand commemorative medal, and medals marking the Queen’s coronation and jubilees.
The congregation heard a reading from D-Day veteran Kenneth Hay.
Mr Hay, reading from Cyril Crain’s poem Normandy, said: ‘Come and stand in memory of men who fought and died.
‘They gave their lives in Normandy, remember them with pride.’
Crain was also a Normandy soldier, and landed at Juno Beach in June 1944, four days before his 21st birthday.
He died in 2014 age 91.
Also at Bayeux Cathedral were Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry, as well as senior staff from the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force.
Speaking after the service, Mr Corbyn praised the ‘beautiful and inclusive service in memory of people who died in Normandy and ultimately helped to defeat the scourge of fascism’.
Veterans and guests arrive at The National Memorial Arboretum ahead of the commemoration
Proud in uniform, veterans and guests arrive for the commemoration in Staffordshire today
Guests sat in respectful silence as Prince William arrived to deliver his speech marking D-Day
The Duke of Cambridge attended the service in at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire today, pictured, without his wife the Duchess of Cambridge
The royal, who served in the RAF, wore his military medals pinned to his suit jacket
imeon Mayou, 96, who was awarded the Legion D’Honour medal shows his photo album as veterans and guests arrive at The National Memorial Arboretum
Veterans and guests chatted as they gathered ahead of the commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire this morning
Veterans and guests at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where Prince William spoke this morning