Tearful D-Day veterans gather in Normandy to pay tribute to the fallen (2024)

Tearful D-Day veterans have gathered in Normandy to pay tribute to their fallen brothers, ahead of the 80th anniversary of the historic day.

Over 30 former servicemen made the ferry crossing from Portsmouth Harbour yesterday, a stark drop from the more than 200 who made the journey in 2019.

During the journey across the Channel, a wreath was thrown into the sea by Harry Birdsall, 98, and Alec Penstone, 98, in memory of those who never made it ashore.

In the moving display both stood saluting to the Last Post, while all the veterans sang Land Of Hope And Glory before they were cheered by the other passengers.

Over 4,400 Allied soldiers lost their lives as they forced back German troops, yet standing on that same beach 80 years later, one veteran movingly declared there 'are things worth fighting for.'

D-Day veteran John Dennett, 99, from Liverpool, gets emotional during a Spirit of Normandy Trust wreath-laying service just off the French coastline

Veteran Donald Jones reacts as he returns to Sword Beach in Normandy, France, where he landed on D-Day

D-Day veteran Henry Rice, 98, sheds a tear at the statue of Field Marshal Montgomery during the Spirit of Normandy Trust service in Coleville-Montgomery, France

Read More D-Day, hour by hour: MailOnline's visualisations relive Operation Overlord in forensic detail

In France, four veterans returned toSword Beach alongside serving military personnel, to honour their landing at the site in 1944.

An emotional day for the war heroes after locals approached the men on the beach to thank them for their service.

Donald Jones from Mold, North Wales, became visibly moved by this and sat alone in his wheelchair with tears in his eyes as he remembered that fateful day looking out at the beach.

More than 150,000 British, Canadian and American troops landed in a combined naval, air and ground assault on Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944.

Mr Jones joined the Royal Navy in 1942 when he was 17 years old and in 1943 he was sent to train at H.M.S Raleigh, according to the Mold & District Civil Society.

The next year, a ship he was posted on landed on Sword Beach at around 8am on D-Day - it was one of five landing points where thousands of troops arrived.

Jack Mortimer, 100, from Leeds, who also landed on Sword Beach, told Sky News: 'When I go back there, I cry. I saw bodies being brought off that beach.'

Princess Anne, Princess Royal unveils a statue of a Second World War Canadian Royal Regina Rifleman during a reception with members of the regiment in France

The Princess Royal alongside the new statute. All the events in Francecoincided with a national commemorative event in Portsmouth, UK

D-Day veteran Bernard 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 in the UK to Ouistreham, in Caen, France

This year450 British paratroopers will play their part in saluting the famous drop behind enemy lines in 1944 that marked the start of the invasion of Nazi-occupied France, by parachuting in.

Charles and Camilla joined the Prince of Wales, leading UK politicians and veterans at a major event in Portsmouth, where the King gave his first public speech since being diagnosed with cancer.

He told the crowd: 'The stories of courage, resilience and solidarity we have heard today and throughout our lives cannot fail to move us, to inspire us and to remind us of what we owe to that great wartime generation.'

Camilla was overcome with emotion today as a D-Day veteran recounted the horror of losing his best friend on the beaches of Normandy 80 years ago.

Queen Camilla is overcome with emotion as a war veteran recounts the horror of losing his best friend on the beaches of Normandy

The King and Queen watched proceedings from the Royal Box after Charles had delivered his speech

A specular Red Arrows flypast over Type 23 FrigateHMS St Albans

Tears welled up in the Queen's eyes as former Royal Navy serviceman Eric Bateman recalled his experience on Utah beach - while King Charles also appeared visibly moved.

Mr Bateman, who served on the warship HMS Erebus, described how you could 'walk across the Channel' because there were so many boats involved in the invasion.

Paying tribute to his fallen comrades, he said: 'So many men and women, including my dear friend Fred, joined up with me but unfortunately never made it.'

The Royal British Legion will host a commemoration service at Bayeux War Cemetery before the Ministry of Defence and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission host a joint UK-France thanksgiving service at Bayeux Cathedral.

Tonight, as the sun sets, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Bayeux War Cemetery will light up in honour of those who fought on the beaches. The light show will be streamed live on the BBC so all can witness the occasion.

Tearful D-Day veterans gather in Normandy to pay tribute to the fallen (2024)
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