WORLD leaders have gathered in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings and pay tribute to those who took part.
UK Prime Minister Theresa May said at the ceremony to mark the occasion: “The only words we can say to veterans are ‘thank you’.”
French President Emmanuel Macron told D-Day hundreds of veterans who had gathered in Northern France that the people of the nation “owed them their freedom.”
President Donald Trump later told US veterans that they are “the pride of the nation” at a service at the US war ceremony at Omaha beach.
A lone piper started the evocative commemorations that turned minds back to the day when allied troops waded ashore under a hail of gunfire to start the liberation of Europe from the Nazi regime. He started playing at 06:26 BST which was the moment British troops landed on the beaches 75 years ago.
By the time night fell on June 6, 1944 around 156,000 Allied troops had landed on Normandy’s beaches. They had gained a foothold in Europe the first step to victory in the western front.
Earlier today (June 6) Mr Macron and Mrs May attended a ceremony in Ver-sur-Mer to witness the first stone laid for a memorial overlooking Gold Beach to commemorate the 22,442 British troops who died in the area during the campaign.
Mrs May said it was “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.
“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,” she added.
Mr Macron 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.”
The Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joined Mrs May at a service in Bayeux’s cathedral. It was the first city to be liberated by allied troops.