D-Day Veterans Invited To 75th Anniversary Commemorations

The Defence Secretary has invited all veterans of D-Day to take part in the 75th-anniversary celebrations of the Normandy landings.

All sailors, marines, soldiers and airmen who helped pave the way for the liberation of Europe have been asked by Gavin Williamson to attended the event this June.

In an open letter issued ahead of a D-Day75 launch event in Portsmouth, Mr Williamson said: “Her Majesty’s Government is proud to announce plans to mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Landings planned for June 2019, when the eyes of the world will be upon you once more.

"Your actions in 1944 were the vital springboard to the liberation of Europe and the end of the Second World War," the letter continues.

Speaking at the launch at the D-Day Story Museum in Portsmouth, the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff also paid tribute to the role played by Normandy veterans.

General Sir Gordon Messenger said they were 'human stories of bravery, courage and determination.'

D-Day veteran, Bob Gale, was also at the launch.

Mr Gale was only 22-years-old when he landed on Gold Beach on D-Day.

He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. 

Mr Gale recalled the moment he arrived on the beach: "The whole place seemed to be covered in smoke and there was an awful lot of noise going off. 

"The Germans shells going over the top, British shells going over the top a little bit higher, there was aeroplanes going over as well.

"I went up on the ramp to help the soldiers get off the boat and to tell them ' do not to step on the beach, step on the beach and you're dead so get off the beach as quick as possible' and they ran like rabbits, they really did." 

Operation Overlord', the codename for the Allied landings on the Normandy beaches, marked the start of a long campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.

Nearly 7,000 vessels, including battleships, destroyers, minesweepers, escorts and assault craft took part in naval component of the operation.

Naval forces were responsible for escorting and landing over 132,000 troops on the beaches.