Events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day will take place in France and the UK today.
In one of her final official engagements as Conservative leader, Theresa May will attend an inauguration ceremony in Normandy for a memorial to commemorate more than 20,000 members of the British armed forces who died there in summer 1944.
The British Normandy Memorial, funded by the Normandy Memorial Trust, is being built on a hillside in Ver-sur-Mer, overlooking Gold Beach, one of the key sites for British troops during the Normandy Landings.
French President Emmanuel Macron will join the British Prime Minister at the ceremony, where a sculpture created by David Williams-Ellis will be unveiled marking the beginning of construction for the memorial.
Expected to be completed within a year, it will record the names of 22,442 members of the British armed forces who died in the D-Day landings and Battle of Normandy.
After the memorial inauguration, Theresa May will join veterans and the Prince of Wales at a cathedral service in Bayeux.
The city, close to the northern French coast, was the first major place to be liberated, after the Allied forces invasion.
Following the service, veterans will parade from the cathedral to the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery.
75 years ago men landed on these beaches & further inland. Over 2,000 Commonwealth servicemen would be killed in action on D-Day & are commemorated by @CWGC in cemeteries & on memorials throughout Normandy. Learn more here: https://t.co/z1foQhfR9w #LegacyOfLiberation #DDay75 #WW2 pic.twitter.com/0RTYJjm5B3— WarGravesCommission (@CWGC) June 6, 2019
Dignitaries will be invited to lay memorial wreaths and the last post will be played at the site where more than 4,000 war dead are buried.
Ahead of the commemorations, Theresa May said: “It is a privilege to be in Normandy today for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings and to pay my respects to the troops who gave their lives for the freedom we cherish today.
“As we come together to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of those who died for our liberty 75 years ago – we promise to honour their memory for generations to come.”
Meanwhile, many veterans will flock to the town of Arromanches for a series of events.
Activities on Thursday will mark key events in the operation. The day will begin with a lone piper playing a lament on Port Winston signalling the minute the invasion began and the moment the first British soldier landed on Gold beach.
Pipe Major Trevor Macey-Lillie, of 19th Regiment Royal Artillery (The Scottish Gunners), will perform Highland Laddie.
Veterans will then descend on the town square as part of a parade with Tobias Ellwood, the minister for Defence People and Veterans, and chief of Ministry of Defence general staff Mark Carleton-Smith will be among crowds before a Red Arrows flypast and a firework display.
Across the Channel, a service of remembrance and wreath laying takes place at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.
In Portsmouth, following President Donald Trump’s visit on Wednesday, a veteran’s parade will take place before a memorial service at the city’s D-Day Stone.
And in London, the Duke of Sussex will attend Founder’s Day at the Royal Hospital Chelsea where he will see the Chelsea Pensioners and six veterans from the Normandy Landings.
- Press Association