Friday , July 12 2024

A hero’s last salute: Guard of honour for D-Day veteran, 100, as he is applauded by huge crowds of wellwishers after 80th anniversary commemorations attended King Charles, Prince William and 25 heads of state including Biden, Macron and Zelensky

A heroic D-Day veteran saluted crowds of cheering well wishers as they gathered to honour the bravery of his fallen comrades on the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings.

Former codebreaker Bernard Manning, from Crewe in Cheshire, captured the nation’s tragedy yesterday as he was pictured poignantly saluting the silent graves of Britain’s soldiers in Bayeux, France.

And following a week where the 100-year-old has been personally wheeled around by Rishi Sunak and has met King Charles, Queen Camilla and Princess Anne, he received the deserved applause of every-day people as they packed the streets of Arromanches-les-Bains – returning a smiling salute of his own.

It comes after a day filled with commemoration, where royals, world leaders and veterans gathered in Normandy for a series of ceremonies and events, paying tribute to those who served during the 1944 beach invasion.

The King and the Prince of Wales praised the ‘bravery and sacrifice’ of D-Day veterans who ‘served at that critical time’ as they both made speeches in France on Thursday. 

The Prince of Wales joined world leaders including US president Joe Biden, France’s Emmanuel Macron and Canada’s Justin Trudeau at Omaha Beach, to mark the historic event on its 80th anniversary. While in France, Prince William also met Ukrainian President Zelensky, as war rages in Ukraine against Russia.

The 41-year-old is deputising for his father King Charles at the major event while His Majesty continues to recover after undergoing treatment for cancer earlier this year.

The monarch appeared emotional as he paid tribute to the ‘remarkable wartime generation’ who put their lives on the line to end the Nazi occupation of Europe at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer.

Former codebreaker Bernard Manning, from Crewe in Cheshire, captured the nation's tragedy yesterday as he was pictured poignantly saluting the silent graves of Britain's soldiers in Bayeux, France

Former codebreaker Bernard Manning, from Crewe in Cheshire, captured the nation’s tragedy yesterday as he was pictured poignantly saluting the silent graves of Britain’s soldiers in Bayeux, France

Veteran Mr Morgan, who was cheered by crowds today, signed up to join the war effort on his 18th birthday in February 1942

Veteran Mr Morgan, who was cheered by crowds today, signed up to join the war effort on his 18th birthday in February 1942

At just 20-years-old he was the youngest RAF Sergeant to land on Gold Beach in Normandy and he was one of the first to discover the war had ended

At just 20-years-old he was the youngest RAF Sergeant to land on Gold Beach in Normandy and he was one of the first to discover the war had ended

To mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Mr Morgan, now 100, journeyed to Normandy this week with over 30 former serviceman. He had previously been to visit the graves in Normandy previously with his daughter

To mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Mr Morgan, now 100, journeyed to Normandy this week with over 30 former serviceman. He had previously been to visit the graves in Normandy previously with his daughter

Yesterday, he was emotionally pictured among the rows of white graves at the Bayeux cemetery, paying his respects to his fallen comrades

Yesterday, he was emotionally pictured among the rows of white graves at the Bayeux cemetery, paying his respects to his fallen comrades

The monarch appeared emotional as he paid tribute to the 'remarkable wartime generation' who put their lives on the line to end the Nazi occupation of Europe at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer

The monarch appeared emotional as he paid tribute to the ‘remarkable wartime generation’ who put their lives on the line to end the Nazi occupation of Europe at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US first lady Jill Biden and US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron and Prince William attending D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on June 6 2024, as part of 80th anniversary of 'D-Day'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US first lady Jill Biden and US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte Macron and Prince William attending D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on June 6 2024, as part of 80th anniversary of ‘D-Day’

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales, speak during the international ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and Britain’s Prince William, the Prince of Wales, speak during the international ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings

The Prince of Wales meets the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they attend the International commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach, joining over 25 Heads of State and veterans from around the world

The Prince of Wales meets the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy as they attend the International commemorative ceremony at Omaha Beach, joining over 25 Heads of State and veterans from around the world 

Mr Morgan (left), 100, from Crewe, salutes as veteran Jack Mortimer, 100, from Leeds, gets emotional as he travels on the Brittany Ferries ship Mont St Michel out of Portsmouth Harbour

Mr Morgan (left), 100, from Crewe, salutes as veteran Jack Mortimer, 100, from Leeds, gets emotional as he travels on the Brittany Ferries ship Mont St Michel out of Portsmouth Harbour

Mr Morgan is pushed in his wheelchair by Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative ceremony

Mr Morgan is pushed in his wheelchair by Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative ceremony

Princess Anne, Princess Royal meets with veteran Mr Morgan as she attends a ceremony, along with D-Day veterans, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the landings

Princess Anne, Princess Royal meets with veteran Mr Morgan as she attends a ceremony, along with D-Day veterans, to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the landings

Queen Camilla speaks with RAF D-Day veteran Mr Morgan during a lunch following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day

Queen Camilla speaks with RAF D-Day veteran Mr Morgan during a lunch following the UK national commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day

King Charles, Bernard Morgan and John Dennett meet together at Buckingham Palace on May 22 - before they travelled to France

King Charles, Bernard Morgan and John Dennett meet together at Buckingham Palace on May 22 – before they travelled to France

D-Day veterans Albert Keir (second left), Stan Ford (third left), Alec Penstone (centre), and Alan Kennett (right) arrive for the D-Day parade with a Royal Guard Of Honour

D-Day veterans Albert Keir (second left), Stan Ford (third left), Alec Penstone (centre), and Alan Kennett (right) arrive for the D-Day parade with a Royal Guard Of Honour

It presented the royals with a chance to meet some of the veterans, with 98-year-old Roy Hayward saying the King had asked him ‘how I got on and how I had my legs blown off’.

However, he and Queen Camilla have decided not attend the international commemorative ceremony in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer which is 20 miles (32km) away, giving his eldest son and heir to the throne William a chance to shine.

William joined a number of world leaders, including Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron, at the final international commemorative event on Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer. 

Veteran Mr Morgan, who was cheered by crowds today, signed up to join the war effort on his 18th birthday in February 1942.

At just 20-years-old he was the youngest RAF Sergeant to land on Gold Beach in Normandy and he was one of the first to discover the war had ended when he deciphered a secret telex which read: ‘The German war is now over… The surrender is effective some time tomorrow’.

To mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, Mr Morgan, now 100, journeyed to Normandy this week with over 30 former serviceman. He had previously been to visit the graves in Normandy previously with his daughter.

Yesterday, he was emotionally pictured among the rows of white graves at the Bayeux cemetery, paying his respects to his fallen comrades.

Speaking of his memories of the day to MailOnline, the Second World War hero said: ‘I always think about the three wireless operators that I lost in Normandy. They were the lads bringing me the messages. 

‘One of them was 19 and two of them were 20, and whenever I go to Normandy, I always go to their graves.’ 

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At a Canadian commemorative ceremony on Juno Beach, William thanked those who served ‘for our freedom’, adding: ‘All of you demonstrated heroism, and determination, that ensured fascism was conquered.’ 

He praised the ‘bravery and sacrifice’ of D-Day veterans who served ‘at that critical time’. 

He joins heads of state in attendance alongside King Frederik X of Denmark and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, while Defence Secretary Grant Shapps is also there.

Photographs show William greeting Zelensky as they attended the ceremony on Omaha Beach earlier today. 

Alan Kennett, Stan Ford, and Albert Keir sing 'Auld Lang Syne' during a parade with a Royal Guard Of Honour in Arromanches-les-Bains

Alan Kennett, Stan Ford, and Albert Keir sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ during a parade with a Royal Guard Of Honour in Arromanches-les-Bains

A British veteran holds his hand in a 'V for victory' sign as he poses with his medals in Arromanches, France as he commemorates the D-Day anniversary

A British veteran holds his hand in a ‘V for victory’ sign as he poses with his medals in Arromanches, France as he commemorates the D-Day anniversary

The Prince of Wales has stepped in to represent Britain on the world stage in his father's place as he attends a moving ceremony to honour the heroes of D-Day

The Prince of Wales has stepped in to represent Britain on the world stage in his father’s place as he attends a moving ceremony to honour the heroes of D-Day

The Prince of Wales has joined world leaders including US president Joe Biden , France 's Emmanuel Macron and Canada 's Justin Trudeau at Omaha Beach, to mark the historic event on its 80th anniversary

The Prince of Wales has joined world leaders including US president Joe Biden , France ‘s Emmanuel Macron and Canada ‘s Justin Trudeau at Omaha Beach, to mark the historic event on its 80th anniversary

Prince of Wales talks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska at the International commemorative ceremony

Prince of Wales talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska at the International commemorative ceremony

The Prince of Wales attends the official international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

The Prince of Wales attends the official international ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre left) and the Prince of Wales smile together as they attend D-Day commemorations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre left) and the Prince of Wales smile together as they attend D-Day commemorations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska, arrive at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska, arrive at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska as they arrive

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps welcomes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska as they arrive

The Prince of Wales (left) talks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as world leaders gathered to remember the D-Day landings

The Prince of Wales (left) talks to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as world leaders gathered to remember the D-Day landings

Prince William seemed in fine spirits as he spoke to veterans and members of the public during a surprise visit to Arromanches this afternoon

Prince William seemed in fine spirits as he spoke to veterans and members of the public during a surprise visit to Arromanches this afternoon

President Biden appeared emotional during the ceremony at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

President Biden appeared emotional during the ceremony at Omaha Beach in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer

Among the world leaders present were (L-R) Poland's President Andrzej Duda, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Jill Biden, US President Joe Biden, France's President Emmanuel Macron, French President's wife Brigitte Macron, Britain's Prince William, the Prince of Wales and Australia's Governor-General David Hurley and Australian Governor-General's wife Linda Hurley

Among the world leaders present were (L-R) Poland’s President Andrzej Duda, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, US First Lady Jill Biden, US President Joe Biden, France’s President Emmanuel Macron, French President’s wife Brigitte Macron, Britain’s Prince William, the Prince of Wales and Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley and Australian Governor-General’s wife Linda Hurley

President Macron and his wife Brigitte and President Biden and his wife Jill arrive at the official commemoration event on Thursday

President Macron and his wife Brigitte and President Biden and his wife Jill arrive at the official commemoration event on Thursday

The Prince of Wales visited the D-Day museum in Arromanches, which lies above Gold Beach, one of the stretches of coast that was targeted during the Normandy landings

The Prince of Wales visited the D-Day museum in Arromanches, which lies above Gold Beach, one of the stretches of coast that was targeted during the Normandy landings

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives at the international ceremony at Omaha Beach on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings

US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky at the D-Day commemoration ceremony in France

US President Joe Biden meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky at the D-Day commemoration ceremony in France

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) as he arrives, sporting a poppy in remembrance of those who died during the fighting

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) as he arrives, sporting a poppy in remembrance of those who died during the fighting

William made the journey to Arromanches before travelling to an international commemoration at Omaha Beach in the afternoon

William made the journey to Arromanches before travelling to an international commemoration at Omaha Beach in the afternoon

The heir to the throne was gifted a pin by one veteran, while another told him they were sending their best wishes to his father

The heir to the throne was gifted a pin by one veteran, while another told him they were sending their best wishes to his father

Speaking at the event, Presidents Biden and Macron took the opportunity to issue a rallying cry against ‘tyrants’ who ‘want to change borders by force’.

With Zelenskyy in the audience, both premiers explicitly referenced Ukraine as they spoke about D-Day’s legacy.

In a strikingly frank message, Biden said: ‘The struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending. Here in Europe we see one stark example, Ukraine has been invaded by a tyrant bent on domination. 

‘Ukrainians are fighting with extraordinary courage, suffering great losses but never backing down.’

And Macron added: ‘When we look at those who want to change borders by force to rewrite history, let us stand with dignity and look at those who landed here.

‘Let us have their courage. Here, President of Ukraine, your presence here today shows us this in a very forceful way.’

Prompting Zelenskyy to put his hand on his heart and thank the French president, he continued: ‘Thank you, thank you to the people of Ukraine. Thank you for their love of freedom. We are here and we shall not be weakened.

‘When people want us to forget things, when people want us to anesthetize our minds, it is this impetus that will take us forward without fear and that is why we are here today.

‘We know that freedom is a fight that has to be fought every day. So for all those around the world living in the hope of liberty, equality and fraternity, June 6 is a day that goes on forever. It is a dawn that always breaks.’

Ahead of the meeting William surprised veterans and people who had gathered in Arromanches, also known as Gold Beach, to mark the milestone. 

The Prince, who was gifted a pin by one veteran in the seaside town and saw others pass along their well wishes to his father, stopped at the French town’s D-day museum following his speech at the Canadian commemoration ceremony earlier in the day.

Earlier in the day William gave a speech at Juno Beach praising the actions of Canadian troops who stormed the seafront on D-Day

Earlier in the day William gave a speech at Juno Beach praising the actions of Canadian troops who stormed the seafront on D-Day

The Prince of Wales (right) joined Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (left) in paying their respects to the sacrifices made by Canadians in the fight

The Prince of Wales (right) joined Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (centre) and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (left) in paying their respects to the sacrifices made by Canadians in the fight

France's Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (L) walks with the French President's Head of Protocol Jose Pietroboni as he arrives

France’s Prime Minister Gabriel Attal (L) walks with the French President’s Head of Protocol Jose Pietroboni as he arrives

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with American President Joe Biden as they are attending the D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shakes hands with American President Joe Biden as they are attending the D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron link hands as they arrive at the ceremony

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and French President Emmanuel Macron link hands as they arrive at the ceremony

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT) the 'Red Arrows' accompanied by Typhoon Display Team 'Moggy' aircraft fly over the British Normandy Memorial, Ver-sur-Mer

The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team (RAFAT) the ‘Red Arrows’ accompanied by Typhoon Display Team ‘Moggy’ aircraft fly over the British Normandy Memorial, Ver-sur-Mer

The stunning moment from inside one of the RAF Red Arrows as they fly over the British Normandy Memorial, Ver-sur-Mer

The stunning moment from inside one of the RAF Red Arrows as they fly over the British Normandy Memorial, Ver-sur-Mer

In Arramanches William told a group of British veterans how ‘moving’ the commemorations have been as he made the surprise stop in the town.

Veteran Julian Heal, 52, from Bristol, said: ‘He [told us] ‘it’s all about the veterans’, and people are getting older, and there’s not many left on that, and he just said about how moving it was, especially the new monument on top of the hill.’ 

Mr Heal, who served in Northern Ireland, added: ‘As a veteran it’s really good because he gets us, we have a good laugh, real approachable guy.’ 

In an address at the Canadian ceremony earlier in the day he praised the ‘bravery and sacrifice of the Canadian troops, who gave so much 80 years ago’ as he delivered a speech at the ceremony on Juno Beach. 

He was joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, Canadian D-Day veterans and armed forces personnel in Courseulles-sur-Mer in France.

William said: ‘Far from home they stormed these very sand dunes behind me, shoulder to shoulder with thousands of British troops.

‘Standing here today in peaceful silence, it is almost impossible to grasp the courage it would have taken to run into the fury of battle that day.’

He continued: ‘All of you demonstrated heroism, and determination, that ensured fascism was conquered.

‘The commitment to service displayed by Canadian troops is a great testament to the strength of the people of Canada.

‘Canada and the UK continue to stand side by side as we did in 1944. Just as strong together, 80 years later.

‘Ensuring the memory of those who fought for freedom lives on is why we’ve come together again today – to say thank you.’

William, addressing veterans, added: ‘Thank you for our freedom, and thank you for your service.’

Ending his speech, he repeated his appreciation in French: ‘Merci pour notre liberte, et merci pour votre service.’

William cut a sombre figure earlier in the day before he made a speech paying tribute to Canadian troops who fought in the invasion of Nazi-occupied France

William cut a sombre figure earlier in the day before he made a speech paying tribute to Canadian troops who fought in the invasion of Nazi-occupied France

In his speech William said the actions of Canadian troops 'ensured fascism was conquered' during the Second World War

In his speech William said the actions of Canadian troops ‘ensured fascism was conquered’ during the Second World War

William waved at a photographer while at the ceremony, during which he also spoke to Canadian veterans about their experiences

William waved at a photographer while at the ceremony, during which he also spoke to Canadian veterans about their experiences

The Prince of Wales shakes the hand of a Canadian veteran at Juno Beach in northern France on the 80th anniversary of D-Day

The Prince of Wales shakes the hand of a Canadian veteran at Juno Beach in northern France on the 80th anniversary of D-Day

William was seen speaking with veterans as they shared their experiences with him following his speech at Juno Beach

William was seen speaking with veterans as they shared their experiences with him following his speech at Juno Beach

The father-of-three spent time after his speech listening to the veterans on the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings

The father-of-three spent time after his speech listening to the veterans on the 80th anniversary of the Normandy landings

Prince William smiles as he walks alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal at Juno Beach

Prince William smiles as he walks alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal at Juno Beach

Prince William, Canada's Justin Trudeau and France's Gabriel Attal lay floral wreaths on Juno Beach in Normandy earlier today

Prince William, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and France’s Gabriel Attal lay floral wreaths on Juno Beach in Normandy earlier today

Prince Albert of Monaco, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prince William attending the D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach

Prince Albert of Monaco, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prince William attending the D-Day Anniversary International Ceremony at Omaha Beach 

After the Canadian ceremony on Juno Beach, which included the playing of the Last Post and the observance of a minute’s silence, alongside performances from Canadian musicians, William and the politicians briefly chatted to some of the veterans.

The prince asked one old servicemen ‘memories bringing it all back?’ and with the area now a picturesque stretch of sand with beach homes beyond the dunes, he added ‘there’s been a lot of changes.’

William moved on to talk to another Canadian veteran, and when the conversation turned toward the ages of the men who fought on D-Day the future king said ‘a lot of people were lying about their ages’.

Before the Prince of Wales and the prime ministers of France and Canada left floral tributes on Juno Beach, a lone piper played a lament in the dunes as the waves crashed on the sands.

On D-Day, 359 Canadian soldiers were killed, while more than 5,000 troops from the Commonwealth country died over the course of the 11-week Battle of Normandy.

William’s wreath had the handwritten note: ‘Remembering all Canadian acts of bravery and sacrifice 80 years ago.

‘Lest we forget. N’oublions jamais.’

While the Prince of Wales was at Juno Beach, his father and stepmother were attending an emotional ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial.

Charles led a crowd of 2,000 people, which included Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron in a poignant silent prayer to remember those no longer with us, while memories of those who were on the beaches 80 years ago were also read out.

Charles, along with President Macron, Mr Sunak and military leaders laid wreathes of poppies at the memorial as Elgar’s Nimrod was performed by a brass band in the background, with the national anthems of France and the United Kingdom also being played as the Red Arrows roared overhead. 

The monarch looked emotional as he listened to singer Johnny Flynn perform ‘Song with no Name’ in tribute to the fallen, while Camilla was seen wiping her eyes as actor Martin Freeman read a touching diary entry from one survivor who remarked ‘it’s because of the lads [who died] that I’m here today’.

There were tears among the crowd, including from veterans, during the emotional service at Ver-sur-Mer in northern France this morning

There were tears among the crowd, including from veterans, during the emotional service at Ver-sur-Mer in northern France this morning

King Charles shakes the hand of a veteran as they speak following the service at the British Normandy Memorial today

King Charles shakes the hand of a veteran as they speak following the service at the British Normandy Memorial today

Queen Camilla speaks with D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98 from Surrey, at the end of the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial

Queen Camilla speaks with D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98 from Surrey, at the end of the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial

King Charles III lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial during an emotional service to D-Day veterans

King Charles III lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial during an emotional service to D-Day veterans

The King looked emotional as he listened to singer Johnny Flynn perform Song with no Name in tribute to the fallen this morning

The King looked emotional as he listened to singer Johnny Flynn perform Song with no Name in tribute to the fallen this morning

His Majesty King Charles III gives a salute as he lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial this morning

His Majesty King Charles III gives a salute as he lays a wreath of poppies at the British Normandy Memorial this morning

The Red Arrows and a typhoon aircraft fly over the memorial service as the RAF pays tribute to the veterans of the Normandy landings

The Red Arrows and a typhoon aircraft fly over the memorial service as the RAF pays tribute to the veterans of the Normandy landings

King Charles gives a speech honouring those who took part in the D-Day landings at a memorial service in Ver-sur-Mer today

King Charles gives a speech honouring those who took part in the D-Day landings at a memorial service in Ver-sur-Mer today

The number of British veterans in attendance was only a few dozen, as the numbers of survivors dwindles with each year that passes – at the 75th anniversary five years ago 255 travelled to France, compared to the 50 who have made the journey this time around. 

Those veterans in attendance were presented with white roses by French schoolchildren while cadets waved flags, and received multiple standing ovations during the two-hour-long service, before shaking hands and exchanging words with His Majesty. 

In his speech, Charles said: ‘Eighty years ago on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, our nation – and those which stood alongside it – faced what my grandfather, King George VI, described as the supreme test.

‘How fortunate we were, and the entire free world, that a generation of men and women in the United Kingdom and other allied nations did not flinch when the moment came to face that test.

‘On the beaches of Normandy, on the seas beyond and in the skies overhead, our armed forces carried out their duty with a humbling sense of resolve and determination – qualities so characteristic of that remarkable war-time generation.

‘Very many of them never came home, they lost their lives on the D-Day landing grounds or in the many battles that followed.

‘It is with the most profound sense of gratitude that we remember them and all those who served at that critical time.

‘We recall the lesson that comes to us again and again across the decades – free nations must stand together to oppose tyranny.’

Speaking in French as well as English, he also paid his respects to the people of France, who suffered under Nazi rule during the Second World War and who fought for freedom through La Résistance.

Veterans look on during the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial service in northern France this morning

Veterans look on during the commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial service in northern France this morning

A veteran lays a wreath of poppies dedicated to those who died in the Second World War during a ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial

A veteran lays a wreath of poppies dedicated to those who died in the Second World War during a ceremony at the British Normandy Memorial

D-Day veteran Alex Penstone, 98, stands supported by Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the service in Ver-sur-Mer

D-Day veteran Alex Penstone, 98, stands supported by Akshata Murty, the wife of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at the service in Ver-sur-Mer

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative event

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative event

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion's commemorative event

King Charles III speaks to a D-Day veteran during a lunch following the UK Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion’s commemorative event

It comes as the number of surviving D-Day veterans continues to dwindle as the years go by, with fewer attending this year’s commemorative events than ever before.

At the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings the Royal British Legion (RBL) took 255 veterans back to Normandy on a chartered ship, while this year only 23 will make the trip with the charity.

Around 50 British D-Day veterans are expected to be at events in Normandy today, and there have been emotional scenes as those who are well enough to make the journey have gathered in northern France.

A total of 22,442 service personnel under British command died on D-day and during the Battle of Normandy in the summer of 1944.

Nigel Steel, senior curator at the Imperial War Museum, said it is important to ‘make the most’ of having D-Day veterans as their numbers dwindle.

He told MailOnline: ‘The presence of a veterans is special for us and I think we do need to make the most of that because we know that it’s only a matter of time [before they’re no longer there].

‘When the veterans are there it’s great because we can listen to them and we’re kind of enamored by the veterans as much as the event.

‘But without the veterans, as we are now doing with the First World War, we can still talk about it and remember it and appreciate the significance and remember the veterans as part of that historical memory.

‘They [veterans] are so fascinating to us because they were actually there and in their heads are the real memories and all we can do is talk to them and pick this up second hand.

‘I think that’s the great thing about talking to veterans is that you feel your as close to the events as you can ever possibly be.

‘You’ve kind of got a direct line back to those events because they were actually there and they were there witnessing and taking part in them.

‘So that’s why we need to make the most of it while they’re still here but whilst we’re talking to them we need to store up those memories so that we can then share them with the next generations who don’t have the privilege of meeting them in person.’

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