Veterans revisit D-Day beaches 70 years on

York Press: The “Magnificent Seven” Normandy veterans The “Magnificent Seven” Normandy veterans

THE "Magnificent Seven" D Day veterans have returned to the site of the D Day landings to remember their part in the attacks 70 years on.

The group of veterans, as well as carers, families and the widows of other D Day veterans, were all in Normandy for the anniversary commemorations yesterday.

The seven men set out from York at 6am on Wednesday to join veterans from across the country heading to Normandy.

More than 650 ex-servicemen are travelling to northern France to commemorate the military invasion which changed the course of the Second World War.

Around 200,000 visitors are due in the region this week to mark the anniversary of the momentous events, according to local authorities.

The York group are on a five day tour with Leger Holidays to revisit the sites.

The company's battlefield guide Paul Reed said: "D-Day was a turning point in the war so this weekend is an extremely important commemorative event. We are honoured to be sharing this experience with this amazing group of veterans who are returning to Normandy to pay their respects.

"We are also welcoming many of their family members and carers, as well as widows of veterans, so this is going to be a very special, emotional and memorable weekend.

"Nothing beats seeing the ground; viewing Omaha Beach from the bluffs helps understand the terrible losses there on June 6 and standing where the gliders came in at Pegasus Bridge."

York MP Hugh Bayley joined the ceremonies as the guest of French President Francois Hollande.

He was invited as President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and promised Ken Smith, the chairman of the York branch of the Normandy Veterans Association, to share his experience with them on his return.

Mr Bayley said: “It is a great honour and privilege to be invited to join the French president’s platform at this important and historic ceremony. The courage and sacrifices made by Allied servicemen 70 years ago secured the freedom which people of my generation have enjoyed all our lives.”

Today heads of state from 17 nations, including the Queen and Barack Obama, are due to gather for the international ceremony at Sword Beach, the easternmost of the five landing sites.

 

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