Dozens of veterans of the Normandy Landings have gathered at Southwick House in Hampshire as a week of events marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day began.

D-Day veterans met for afternoon tea and a formal dinner at the mansion near Portsmouth which served as the allies’ forward headquarters for the D-Day beach landing operations. The visit is thought to be the largest meeting of surviving D-Day veterans this year, as some are not well enough to make the journey to Normandy for the 80th anniversary.

Many of the veterans travelled on to Normandy on Tuesday morning, while others remained in the UK to attend the national commemorative event in Portsmouth on Wednesday.

Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower and Commander of the Allied Ground Forces General Bernard Montgomery made the monumental call to launch D-Day from Southwick House. Veterans gathered in what is now named the Eisenhower Room, where the fateful decision was made.

The city of Portsmouth played host the Ministry of Defence’s national commemorative event on Southsea Common on the morning of 5 June.

The event was broadcast live on BBC One and BBC iPlayer and featured appearances by members of the royal family, military musicians and a flypast by the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows. The commemorations continue in Normandy on Wednesday evening with a moving vigil and light show at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Bayeux War Cemetery.

On Thursday 6 June, the date of the 80th anniversary, the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion will host the UK’s national commemorative event at the British Normandy Memorial in Ver-sur-Mer, France.