British Paratroopers To Mark D-Day 70th Anniversary

One of the events, which is set for June 5 this year, will be a mass parachute jump  and will be carried out by the 16 Air Assault Brigade, over the tiny village of Ranville, in Normandy, which was the first village to be liberated by the 13th Parachute Battalion in 1944. Defence Minister Lord Astor said he is very delighted over the fact that the Ministry of Defence is supporting the veterans this year and all the events organized to commemorate the D-Day landings in Normandy.

Due to the fact that Ranville was the first region  to be liberated in 1944, this is where the series of events will start , followed by a memorial service . The commemoration will continue with a service at  Bayeux Cathedral and another one at the Bayeux Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, on June 6.  The Normandy Veterans Association has announced that this will be the last year the members of the organization will commemorate the D-Day landings in Normandy, since they have officially decided to disband in November this year. According to George Batts, the 89-year-old national secretary of the association, the group is disbanding because the majority of the members find it very difficult to travel for every event, every year. Most of the members are in their nineties and many of them are in nursing homes, which makes it almost impossible for them to attend. Therefore, the number of vets taking part at the D-Day commemorations has gone down significantly. In the 1980s, there were 16,000 members, while now, the number has gone down to less than 600, the BBC News reports.

The D-Day landings took place on June 6, 1944  and it was the first successful step into the liberation of Europe from the Nazi domination. The recorded human casualties were of 80,000 British and Canadian troops and another 3,000 Allied forces were killed during the D-Day landings in Normandy. The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the Big Lottery Fund is offering support to veterans who wish to return to Normandy for the commemoration in June. Therefore, all veterans are free to apply for finacial support if they want to attend any of the events.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE