This week will see events in the UK and France to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, paying tribute to the Second World War veterans who took part in the Normandy Landings, the largest amphibious assault ever launched, which involved more than 80,000 British troops

The Ministry of Defence (MOD), The Royal British Legion (RBL) and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) have been working with the Normandy Veterans Association to ensure that veterans, now all in their late eighties and early nineties, receive a fitting commemoration.

More than 650 veterans will be making the journey to attend commemorations in France, with a further 90 expected in Portsmouth. The MOD has been working with the French authorities to ensure veterans and their companions receive the correct accreditation passes, and are able to travel around the region to events on 6 June, during what will be an incredibly busy time. Thousands of people are expected to travel to Normandy to pay their respects, and passes have been sent out to veterans by special delivery, with contingency plans in place for the issuing of any outstanding passes in France.

Led by Force Troops Command from within the British Army, more than 1700 personnel from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will be supporting the commemorations in France.

Major General Tim Radford, General Office Commanding Force Troops Command, said: “Every serving Regular and Reserve member of today’s Armed Forces recognises the bravery, commitment and sacrifice of all Allied personnel who took part in the decisive actions of D-Day and the Normandy Campaign.

“I am delighted that Force Troops Command is the United Kingdom’s Defence lead, working alongside all the agencies involved in the 70th Anniversary Commemorations, to support the successful delivery of the events in France. These commemorations are first and foremost about the veterans, remembering the sacrifices that were made and celebrating all that was achieved.”

William (Bill) Moody, Horticultural Sector Supervisor in Normandy, is one of the dedicated CWGC team who have been preparing the cemeteries and memorials ahead of D-Day 70, ensuring they are a fitting tribute to the Fallen and a place of reflection and remembrance for the many expected visitors. Bill, who joined the CWGC in 1968 as a pupil gardener, has over 46 years’ experience maintaining the graves of the Fallen all over the world.

Bill said: “I am proud to be able to honour those that fell and to give them a place that seems like home, although they are sometimes so far from home. I feel as though I am passing the legacy of Remembrance on to future generations, ensuring that we can always come to these remarkable places to reflect on the courage, sacrifice and the real cost in human terms that these men and women made to preserve our freedom.”

Her Majesty The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, TRH The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, and TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will travel to France to attend a number of events across the Normandy region over 5-6 June. In the UK, HRH The Princess Royal will attend commemorations in Portsmouth, the embarkation point for much of the invasion force.

Defence Ministers, military Chiefs and representatives from Commonwealth Realms will also be attending UK led events, as well as an International Event hosted by the French Government.

Commemorations will include:

Thursday 5 June

– Drumhead Service on Southsea Common, an amphibious display on Southsea Beach by members of the Royal Marines – this year celebrating their 350th birthday – launching from HMS Bulwark, and a display by the RAF’s Red Arrows over the Solent. A flotilla of Royal Navy and allied nation ships will then sail from Portsmouth to the Normandy coast, led by HMS Bulwark.

– Events at Pegasus Bridge and Musée Memorial Pegasus Bridge to commemorate the landings by Sixth Airborne Division troops on the night of 5/6 June 1944, and laying of wreaths at the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Memorial and at a statue of Brigadier James Hill, Commander of 3rd Parachute Brigade. Later, a midnight vigil will take place to mark the moment gliders landed to capture the bridge.

– A commemorative parachute descent at Ranville, with more than 300 soldiers, including 150 UK troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade and personnel from the United States, Canada and France, accompanied by 89-year-old D-Day veteran Jock Hutton, and a flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

– A memorial service at the Royal Artillery Memorial at La Brèche.

Friday 6 June

– A UK-French Service of Remembrance organised by The Royal British Legion at Bayeux Cathedral.

– A UK-French Service of Remembrance at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in Bayeux.

– An international event organised by the French Government at Sword Beach, Ouistreham.

– A parade of veterans, a drumhead service and laying of wreaths at Arromanches-les-Bains, organised by the town council.

Other events are taking place across the region between 4-9 June.

The 70th anniversary will prove particularly poignant as the Normandy Veterans Association have indicated this will be the last anniversary that they will officially mark. Later this year, the Association plans to officially disband and lay up their National Standard at a service at St Margaret’s, Westminster, London.