Political leaders including Theresa May and French president Emmanuel Macron today paid tribute to the veterans of the D-Day landings on the 75th anniversary of the event.
May and Macron gathered in Normandy with hundreds of veterans to thank them for their service. The French president told the crowd that “we owe them our freedom”.
US president Donald Trump will later go to an event at a US war cemetery at Omaha Beach with Macron.
D-Day is the name given to the operation that involved the landing of tens of thousands of troops from the UK, the US, Canada and France on 6 June, 1944. The troops attacked German forces on the Normandy beaches in what was the largest military, naval air and land operation in history.
It is marked in history as the start of the end of the second world war between the Western allies and Nazi Germany.
Speaking at one of her last engagements as Prime Minister, May – who will resign tomorrow – told the ceremony that the veterans belonged to a “very special generation”.
“A generation whose unconquerable spirit shaped the post-war world. They didn’t boast. They didn’t fuss. They served,” she said.
“And they laid down their lives so that we might have a better life and build a better world.
“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.”
Her comments were echoed by Macron, who said: “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.”
In a nod to May’s last days as Prime Minister, Macron said: “Leaders may come and go but their achievements remain. The force of our friendship will outlast current events,” he said.
Yesterday the Queen paid tribute to those who died in the D-Day landings at an event in Portsmouth, while accompanied by Trump and 15 other world leaders.